Aug. 26 (UPI) -- The Justice Department has charged Teva Pharmaceuticals with conspiring with its competitors to fix the prices of generic medications.
In a statement Tuesday, the Justice Department said Teva has been charged with three counts of antitrust violations, becoming the seventh generic drug manufacturer to be charged in its ongoing price-fixing investigation.
"Today's charges, the latest in a series of law enforcement actions taken against large drug companies, confirm that this kind of criminal behavior in the generic pharmaceutical industry will not be tolerated," said James Dawson, acting assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office. "Price fixing and bid rigging is a crime, and the American people -- who rely on these drugs to treat serious ailments -- are the ones who pay the price when companies like Teva conspire to raise their costs."
The Justice Department said Teva conspired to raise prices with Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc., Apotex Corp., Sandoz Inc., Taro Pharmaceuticals U.S.A and other drug companies, some of which have admitted to their involvement.
Teva rejected the accusations, stating it has conducted its own internal review for the past four years and have found it didn't participate in the scheme.
"Teva firmly rejects the allegations and will vigorously defend the Company in court," it said in a statement.
In the first count, prosecutors accused Teva of agreeing with Glenmark, Apotex and other unnamed companies to increase prices for pravastatin, a commonly prescribed cholesterol medication, and other generic drugs.
In the second count, Teva is accused of conspiring to increase prices, rig bids and allocate customers for drugs used to treat and manage arthritis, seizures, pain, skin conditions and blood clots.
The third count states Teva and its co-conspirators increased prices, rigged bids and allocated customers for generic drugs used to treat brain cancer, cystic fibrosis, arthritis and hypertension.
"Today's superseding indictment against Teva is another important step in this ongoing criminal investigation, which has already recovered hundreds of millions of dollars," said U.S. Attorney William McSwain for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Justice Department said five of the seven companies charged in its antitrust investigation have resolved by deferred prosecution agreements, while the sixth case against Glenmark awaits trial.
Taro U.S.A., Apotex and Sandoz have all admitted to their involvement in the scheme in the past few months and paid hundreds of millions in penalties to dissolve the charges against them.
Teva said it has cooperated with the Department of Justice during its investigation and has attempted to reach a resolution that is in the best interest of the company but accused the federal agency of being unwilling "to consider alternatives that would not deeply impact Teva and the stakeholders who depend on the Company, including the patients who benefit from our medicines."
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division said they will continue to work to ensure that companies who "blatantly cheat consumers of the benefits of the free markets" will be held accountable.
"Today's charge reaffirms that no company is too big to be prosecuted for its role in conspiracies that led to substantially higher prices for generic drugs relied on by millions of Americans," he said.