Feds descend on Perrigo offices with search warrants

Perrigo building
Federal investigators served search warrants on generics maker Perrigo, looking for info for its probe into possible collusion on drug prices.

A number of generics makers have said that they have been asked by federal authorities to turn over info about drug pricing in a probe that has already led to charges against the execs of one company. But in the case of Perrigo, the feds showed up at its offices with search warrants to retrieve some.

The drugmaker said today in a one-paragraph announcement that “warrants were executed at the Company's corporate offices” associated with the investigation into drug pricing by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. The Dublin-based company said it is cooperating but didn’t specify which of its offices were searched.

RELATED: Taro Pharma execs subpoenaed by DOJ over generics pricing

The DOJ has been amping up its investigation into whether companies sometimes colluded on generic drug prices, some of which have gone up sharply in recent years even when multiple producers make the same generic med.

Disclosures by companies have made it clear for a couple of years that the feds have been investigating, and then the case broke wide in December when the former CEO and the former president of New Jersey-based Heritage Pharmaceuticals were charged with conspiring to fix prices and and allocate customers for the antibiotic doxycycline hyclate and diabetes drug glyburide.

RELATED: Ex-Heritage Pharma execs first up for federal charges in generics price-fixing probe

Days later, 20 states filed a civil suit alleging price fixing and naming Mylan, Teva, Aurobindo Pharma, Citron and Mayne Pharma, as well as Heritage. That suit claimed that “Prices for dozens of generic drugs have uncharacteristically risen—some have skyrocketed—for no apparent reason.” Many of the companies have denied any wrongdoing, while others have refused to comment.

Perrigo’s name came up in the investigation in March when, Bloomberg reported, the Justice Department filed a letter in a civil case, asking a judge to put a hold on discovery proceedings until it was done with its criminal investigation. The letter references lawsuits over three dermatology drugs made by Perrigo as well as Akorn, Taro, Novartis’ Sandoz unit, Wockhardt and Teva. The DOJ didn’t, however, say those companies were targets of the investigation.

RELATED: Eli Lilly's insulin pricing scrutiny intensifies with newly disclosed state AG probes

Public discontent over rapidly rising drug prices has been growing, and there are a number of separate lawsuits and investigations into branded drug prices as well, including against price jumps by Mylan for its EpiPen allergy reaction med and several into insulin prices aimed at companies including Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk.

RELATED: DOJ pricing probe threatens $1B-plus fines, but few generics makers will face charges: Analysts

Both the feds and the states have indicated that their investigations into generic pricing are continuing, and some analysts are now trying to handicap the potential damages. They have said some companies could face fines, penalties or settlements that would run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.