Mylan latest caught up in DOJ probe of generic drug prices

Mylan ($MYL) said today that it got a special delivery from the Justice Department Thursday, making it the most recent of a string of drugmakers to get a subpoena from federal investigators. In a one-sentence filing today, Mylan said the DOJ is asking for info about sales of the antibiotic doxycycline.

Mylan CEO Heather Bresch

The drugmaker, now based in the Netherlands, said that it intends to cooperate fully with the feds, which it said is asking for info about "marketing, pricing and sale of our generic Doxycycline products and any communications with competitors about such products." Prices of doxycycline, a drug used for treating a range of conditions including malaria, Lyme disease and STDs, spiked when a shortage developed in 2012 and lasted into 2013. Drug Channel Institute, a website that monitors the economics of the pharma business, reported that the price of the 100-mg dose of the antibiotic had soared 6,351% for the 12 months ended in November 2013. That was about the time the FDA reported the shortage was resolved but prices remained high into 2014.

It has been clear since last year that the DOJ has been conducting a criminal probe into generic drug prices, as company after company has acknowledged getting subpoenas. Allergan ($ACT) this summer said it received a subpoena from DOJ's antitrust division for info about specific drugs which Allergan didn't name. Allergan, which is in the process of being acquired by Pfizer ($PFE) for $160 billion, received the DOJ inquiry just two days before it announced it would sell its generics business Actavis to Teva ($TEVA) in a $40.5 billion transaction.

Par Pharmaceutical reported that it had received a subpoena for "communications with competitors" about its generic doxycycline products as well as its generic of Covis' Lanoxin. It also said received a civil demand from the FTC for info about its deal with Concordia Healthcare relating to Par's generic version of Concordia's Kapvay. Impax Laboratories ($IPXL) and Lannett ($LCI) have also acknowledged being asked to cough up info.

Sen. Claire McCaskill

Separately there has been Congressional investigations into drug pricing for branded and generic drugs. In fact, next week, Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill, who jointly lead the Senate Special Committee on Aging, will hold a hearing as part of a Senate look into drug pricing. They have asked for info from Valeant Pharmaceuticals ($VRX), Turing Pharmaceuticals, Retrophin ($RTRX), and Rodelis Therapeutics, all of whom have been in the news for dramatically jacking up prices on drugs for which there is little or no competition.

But the probe by the DOJ's Antitrust Division is the one the industry will sweat over the most because it is a criminal investigation, the kind that can result in big company fines and land people in jail.

- here's the filing

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