Teva, others talk settlements with feds in yearslong generics price fixing probe: report

Federal prosecutors are considering deferred prosecution agreements with generic drug companies, Bloomberg reports. (skpy on Flickr)

Federal prosecutors have been probing alleged generics price fixing for years, and, over the summer, lawmakers urged them to get moving with the investigation. Now, Teva and other drugmakers are in talks for possible settlements, a report says. 

Teva, Taro and other generic drug makers have been discussing possible settlements with federal prosecutors over the past six months, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the discussions. Of course, the talks could still fail to yield deals, as the news service points out. 

A Teva representative told the news service the company is cooperating with the investigation and would be open to a deal it makes sense for shareholders and patients.  

One option on the table, according to Bloomberg, is deferred prosecution agreements, which could benefit the federal government because criminal convictions would bar generics makers from dealing with federal payers. If companies couldn't do business with Medicare and Medicaid, competition would dwindle and generic drug prices could climb. But such deals would also benefit drugmakers, which would be able to continue selling to federal agencies.

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The probe has been going on for years and in 2016 yielded settlements from former execs at small generic drugmaker Heritage Pharmaceuticals. That accord was an indication that the ball was rolling, but since then, the Department of Justice (DOJ) hasn’t publicly reported any major progress. 

This summer, Sen. Bernie Sanders and the late Rep. Elijah Cummings urged the DOJ to get moving with the probe, writing to Attorney General William Barr that they’re “concerned about the lack of enforcement.”  

That letter came in June, and now the calendar is about to flip to December. Even still, the timeline for any potential deals is uncertain, Bloomberg reports. Federal lawmakers did reach a deal with Heritage that included a $225,000 criminal penalty and a $7 million civil resolution. 

RELATED: Teva starred in price-fixing scheme, but 19 other companies 'willingly' joined, attorneys general claim 

Aside from the federal investigation, Teva and other generic drug makers face a lawsuit from 48 state attorneys general alleging pricing collusion on hundreds of medicines over several years. States say the companies divided up markets and drove prices higher. Humana and UnitedHealthcare each piled on with their own lawsuits.