Attorneys general from 20 states filed an antitrust suit [complaint, PDF] on Thursday alleging price fixing conspiracy against drug giant Mylan NV [corporate website] and five other drugmakers. The complaint alleges that the anti-competitive practices of Mylan and the other companies led to artificially high prices for two generic drugs—doxycycline hyclate delayed release and glyburide. The former is an antibiotic used to treat severe acne while the latter is an oral diabetes medication. According to Pennsylvania Attorney General Bruce Beemer [official website] the states’ investigations have “uncovered evidence of a broad, well-coordinated and long running series of conspiracies to fix prices.” The complaint further alleges that the misconduct was carried out by senior drug company executives, and that the drug companies directly interacted with competitors [press release] at industry trade shows and customer conferences through e-mail, phone conversations and text messaging fully aware that their conduct was illegal. On the whole, the states allege that the companies violated the Sherman Act [text] and request that the court “enjoin the companies from engaging in illegal, anticompetitive behavior and for equitable relief, including substantial financial relief, to address the violations of law and restore competition.” This complaint came a day after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] unsealed documents charging two former executives of Heritage Pharmaceuticals [corporate website] on similar grounds and in connection with the same two drugs. The DOJ investigation involves more than a dozen companies and additional charges are expected. Mylan has already admitted receiving a subpoena from the DOJ concerning doxycycline hyclate.
There are a number of antitrust cases that are either ongoing currently or that have been adjudicated in recent months. Last month the US Supreme Court [official website] published an order [JURIST report] stating that it would no longer hear the appeal in two antitrust suits against Visa, Mastercard [official websites] and several banks concerning ATM fees. The suit alleged that the defendants, credit card companies and banks, conspired to keep the ATM charges high, hurting consumer and ensuring that independent ATM operators can not set lower ATM fees. Earlier the same month Google’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker rejected EU allegations that the company has been engaging in anti-competitive practices contrary to EU law. At about the same time Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official websites] raised concerns in a letter [JURIST report] to the Federal Trade Commission [official website] about Mylan NV’s potential violation of antitrust laws. The two senators then claimed that Mylan NV may have engaged in exclusionary conduct and exclusive contracting when they entered into contracts with schools that barred the schools from purchasing EpiPen from any of their competitors. In October Advocate General Nils Wahl of the European Court of Justice [official website] issued an opinion [JURIST report] in favor of Intel in the dispute over a €1.06 billion EU antitrust fine imposed for anti-competitive behavior. In September the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] Monday that American Express (Amex) [corporate website] can enforce rules that ban merchants accepting its credit cards from directing customers to its competitors’ cards. The court reversed a lower court’s determination that Amex’s agreements with merchants impermissibly restrained trade in violation of antitrust laws.