Apotex, Heritage and Breckenridge settle with purchasers in generics price-fixing case

Over the years, myriad generic drugmakers have had to ante up fines and settlement fees for allegedly colluding on the prices of copycat drugs. Now, Apotex and two of its generics peers have agreed to settle with direct purchasers of their drugs in a price-fixing case that stretches all the way back to 2017.

Apotex plans to settle with the group of direct purchaser plaintiffs for $30 million, while Heritage Pharmaceuticals and Breckenridge Pharmaceutical will hand over $10 million and $5 million, respectively, according to a trio of motions filed Tuesday in the multidistrict litigation in Pennsylvania federal court.

Each of the settlement amounts has the potential to increase or decrease, depending on the outcome of the legal proceedings. Apotex, for instance, could have its settlement fund reduced by up to $3.6 million if certain parties opt out of the deal.

The case stretches back to 2017, when direct purchasers fired off litigation claiming that Apotex and its peers conspired with other, non-settling drugmakers to artificially inflate and maintain prices for certain generic drugs. The plaintiffs said this activity resulted in “supracompetitive prices” that forced them to overpay for medications.

The settlement negotiations with Apotex, Heritage and Breckenridge were “hard-fought, at arm’s length, and spanned many months,” the plaintiffs said in the new motions.

As for Toronto-based Apotex, this is hardly the company’s first brush with price-fixing controversy.

Back in early 2020, for instance, the company agreed to pay a $24.1 million criminal penalty in the culmination of a yearslong generics price-fixing probe by the U.S. Department of Justice. Under the deal, the company also admitted to its behavior and entered a deferred prosecution agreement.

That case centered on pricing levels for pravastatin, a generic cholesterol medication, between May 2013 and December 2015. Apotex admitted to working with other generic companies to artificially inflate the drug’s price, U.S. authorities said at the time.

The following year, Apotex agreed to shell out an additional $49 million settlement payment related to pravastatin.