Health Law & Business News

United Healthcare Hits Big Pharma With Generics Pricing Suit (1)

Jan. 17, 2019, 9:32 PMUpdated: Jan. 17, 2019, 10:02 PM

United Healthcare Services Inc. is accusing a roster of pharmaceutical companies of conspiring to “fix, increase, stabilize, or maintain prices of generic drugs” in violation of antitrust laws.

United cites to federal agency and congressional investigations into the suspected conspiracy, as well as private and public lawsuits against the pharmaceutical giants, to support its collusion and price-fixing claims. It filed its lawsuit Jan. 16 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

On top of monetary damages, United wants the court to force the companies to disgorge ill-gotten profits into a common fund and to enjoin them from engaging in collusive behavior in the future.

A similar suit is working its way through the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. That one is a class action, brought by retail pharmacies and direct purchasers of generic digoxin and doxycycline. The federal government intervened in those proceedings January 2017.

United’s complaint goes further, listing no less than 25 generic drugs it believes to be subjected to a price-fixing conspiracy.

United administers pharmaceutical benefits for its insureds and claims to have suffered “several billion dollars” worth of economic damages traceable to the allegedly unlawful price inflation.

A spokesperson for Teva Pharmaceutical, which acquired Actavis in 2016, declined to comment on the litigation Jan. 17.

Aurobindo Pharmaceutical and Mylan Pharmaceutical didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.

Zelle LLP and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP represent United.

The case is United Healthcare Serv., Inc. v. Actavis HoldCo U.S., Inc., D. Minn., No. 19-cv-121, complaint filed 1/16/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Porter Wells in Washington at pwells@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com