The attorneys general of 44 states filed a lawsuit on Friday accusing some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the nation of conspiring to inflate prices – by more than 1,000% in some cases.
“We have emails, text messages, telephone records, and former company insiders that we believe will prove a multi-year conspiracy to fix prices and divide market share for huge numbers of generic drugs,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.
The team reportedly has 11 million phone records of 600 people. Many of the emails reflect the content of the calls.
The lawsuit names 20 major drug companies, including Teva, Pfizer, Mylan, Novartis, and more than a dozen senior executives. The complaint accuses the executives of deleting evidence after states started their investigation in 2014.
According to a report from the New York Times, the alleged scheme affected the prices of more than 100 generic drugs, including oral antibiotics, blood thinners, anti-depressants, and contraceptives.
Americans pay more for prescription drugs than people of any other industrialized nation.
The 465-page lawsuit accuses executives of drug companies of “coordinating consistently to obstruct” probes into drug prices, including the investigation launched by Rep. Elijah Cummings and Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2014.
The lawsuit claims that competing companies reached agreements that led to price hikes of more than 100 indispensable generics. In some cases, prices were increased by 2,000%.
Market manipulation has caused the prices of generic drugs to reach nearly the cost of brand-name drugs.
Tong said at a news conference that drug prices are “fixed” and the market is “rigged.” The Connecticut Attorney General vowed to “claw back” some of the money that companies had cheated out of consumers.
The process, Tong said, will likely take years, but he is open to a trial.