Attorney General Maura Healey has joined leaders from 44 other states in suing a group of drug makers and pharmaceutical executives for allegedly fixing prices on generic drugs.
In a press release Monday, Healey announced the complaint against 20 drug companies and 15 pharmaceutical executives, accusing them of “intentionally” raising drug prices as much as 1,000 percent.
“This was very much intentional,” Healey told WGBH News. “This is something that these executives and these companies set out to do.”
The drugs in the alleged scheme include treatments for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer and epilepsy.
“People need access to generic drugs,” Healey said. “They need these kinds of medications to live.”
According to Healey, an ongoing investigation uncovered evidence that companies like Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA “conspired” to raise drug prices, instead of competing against one another for lower rates.
“You mostly think that the price of a product is going to go down over time with more competition,” Healey said, “but instead, these drug manufacturers got together to raise prices over time. … It's why we've sued and it's why we're in court.”
The complaint also alleges that senior executives “regularly conspired to … raise prices” through emails, phone calls and text messages, including phrases to “unlawfully discourage competition” like “fair share” and “playing nice in the sandbox.”
The individuals named in the complaint include several upper-echelon officials, including pharmaceutical company vice presidents, and three executive employees from Teva.
“These companies and their executives did what they're not supposed to do,” Healey said, “and that is to conspire to collude to jack up the prices so that consumers would have to pay a whole lot more, as well as the state.”
The states are now seeking damages, civil penalties and actions by the court to restore competition in the generic drug market.
“We need this practice to end,” Healey said. “And they're going to have to pay big money damages and penalties ultimately, at the end of the day, based on what they have done here in Massachusetts and across this country.”
Healey previously joined a similar lawsuit in 2016 against six pharmaceutical companies. That lawsuit is pending in the U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania.