Makers of Generic Beta Blocker Face Price-Fixing Class Action Lawsuit

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Santa Clara, CA: An antitrust class action lawsuit has been filed against Mylan Inc., Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Endo International PLC and nine other drug makers alleging they conspired to increase the price of the generic blood pressure medication propranolol, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

The lawsuit, brought by a company based in Puerto Rico, alleges that as of December 2013, the defendants worked together to fix the prices for generic propranolol capsules at more than 150 percent their previous prices.

The complaint goes on to claim that the drug makers, seeing success with the capsules, then colluded to increase the price of generic propranolol tablets in excess of 700 percent, and in some dosages the price increase was more than 1,000 percent. “While the capsule price increases were ‘extraordinary,’ the tablet increases were radical,” the complaint states.

According to the complaint, the prices of propranolol capsules made by all competitors suddenly, and markedly, increased in December 2013, shortly after an October 2013 trade meeting in Bethesda, Maryland.

Propranolol is a beta blocker approved to treat several heart and circulatory conditions. It has been on the market since the 1980s, and for the majority of that time the generic version has cost far less than its branded counterpart, according to the complaint.

The plaintiff, which bought propranolol directly from one or more of the defendants, also cites earlier state and federal regulatory scrutiny of price-fixing conspiracies regarding generic drugs also made by some of the defendants. Specifically, formal criminal charges against two former senior executives at Heritage Pharmaceuticals Inc., one of the defendants in the instant case, for their roles in fixing the price of generic glyburide and doxycycline hyclate, and lawsuits brought by the attorneys general of 20 states against Heritage, Teva, Mylan and others for allegedly fixing prices and constraining competition for antibiotics and disease treatments.

The plaintiff seeks to represent a class comprised of everyone in the US who purchased propranolol capsules directly from the defendants on or after December 1, 2013, as well as a separate class comprised of everyone in the US who bought propranolol tablets directly from the defendants on or after February 1, 2015.

Cesar Castillo is represented by Linda P. Nussbaum, Bart D. Cohen, Bradley J. Demuth and Peter E. Moran of Nussbaum Law Group PC, and Juan R. Rivera Font of Juan R. Rivera Font LLC.

The case is Cesar Castillo Inc. v. Actavis Elizabeth LLC, et al., case number 1:17-cv-00078, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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