The Israeli-based pharmaceutical giant Teva was named as part of the biggest price-fixing ring in U.S. history, according to a report in The Washington Post on Monday.
Teva was one of 16 generic drug companies including Mylan, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories that allegedly set prices artificially high to reap tremendous profits.
Teva denied the charges, saying that they “are entirely conclusory and devoid of any facts.”
“This is most likely the largest cartel in the history of the United States,” Joseph Nielsen, an assistant attorney general and antitrust investigator involved in the probe, told the newspaper.
No fewer than 47 states have joined as plaintiffs in a case which prosecutors say show the industry was “riddled” with artificially raised prices for at least 300 drugs.
As the news broke, Teva shares tumbled by over 4 percent on Monday morning.
Anti-competitive agreements among the drug companies were said to have driven up prices on numerous medications, with officials claiming they documented price increases of up to 2,000 percent.
If true, it would mean a massive conspiracy to gouge millions of consumers, medical insurance companies, taxpayers, pharmacies, and hospitals across the U.S. A range of drugs involved included those for treating hypertension, alleviating anxiety, and even antibiotics.
Teva was singled out for the marketing of Syprine, a generic drug for treatment of a disease involving accumulations of copper in the body. When the drug was launched, it was billed as an affordable alternative to Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ original drug, selling for $21,267 for a bottle of 100 pills, according to The New York Times.
A press release at the time claimed that the new drug “illustrates Teva’s commitment to serving patient populations in need.” However, Teva’s price was hardly a bargain: $18,275 per bottle of 100 pills, according to Elsevier’s Gold Standard Database.
A view of the Teva Pharmaceuticals logo on its building in Petach Tikvah.