DOJ's price-fixing investigation could lead to sizable liabilities, analyst says

Justice statue with sword and scales

While industry closely tracks developments on the Department of Justice price-fixing investigation into a host of generics companies, one influential analyst has run the numbers on potential liabilities.

In an investigation that spans 12 companies and 24 drugs, Evercore ISI’s Umer Raffat said he believes Teva could face a liability of $300 million to $700 million, while Mylan could face a $380 million to $770 million liability. Those numbers are strictly based on the drugs “most likely” to be involved in the probe of which Raffat and company “are aware.”

Allergan, which sold its generics division to Teva for $40.5 billion this summer, doesn’t face liability in the investigation, Raffat said.

To arrive at those figures, the analysts ran numbers on 11 drugs from the combination of Teva and Allergan’s generics businesses and 6 from Mylan’s generics offerings.

Generics included in the probe include doxycycline from Mylan and digoxin from Impax, along with nearly two dozen others. In a new 10-Q, Mylan disclosed that the DOJ has issued subpoenas to “certain employees and a member of senior management” regarding its sales of cidofovir, glipizide-metformin, propranolol and verapamil. Investigators have also executed search warrants, the company said.

Last week, when news of the probe broke, Mylan said it "is and has always been committed to cooperating with the Antitrust Division’s investigation. To date, we know of no evidence that Mylan participated in price fixing.”

That statement followed Bloomberg’s report that the DOJ has been investigating generics companies for nearly two years and that charges could come by the end of the year. Other companies named in the report are Teva, Par Pharma, Sun Pharma, Impax, Lannett, Mayne Pharma, Covis and Taro. Authorities could target company execs with charges, according to the news service.

Individual execs could face jail time, and the DOJ has “issued subpoenas to very specific people at Lannett and Taro,” Raffat wrote in a presentation on the investigation.

After the news broke, analysts hurried to calculate any potential implications. Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal, for his part, said that the fines could reach an excess of $1 billion in this case, while Leerink Partners analyst Jason Gerberry said the cases could lead to "management dislocation" if execs are found guilty. One expert said it's likely that charges would be limited to a small number of companies, while Gal said Bernstein is skeptical that charges would make their way to bigger generics companies.

Among factors unfavorable to companies based on what’s known, Raffat said, is that “pricing charts show simultaneous increases.” But he said that the “leak to financial press” could indicate the government is hoping to settle.