Humana sues drug manufacturers, alleges price-fixing

Humana filed a lawsuit Aug. 3 against nearly 30 pharmaceutical companies, alleging they united to fix the prices of widely used generic drugs, forcing the health insurer to pay inflated prices.

Here are eight things to know:

1. Humana claims its allegations are based on personal knowledge of the price-fixing and on publicly available information revealed during several state and federal investigations.

2. The 273-page complaint details "secret communications and meetings" between the drug companies at industry trade group events that show they conspired to "obstruct generic competition … [and] fix, increase, stabilize and/or maintain the price of [specific] drugs."

3. Humana's complaint builds on  several investigations into drug companies by the U.S. Justice Department in nearly every state. Among the plaintiffs are Mylan, Novartis and Teva — all of which have been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors.

4. Humana claims it spent more than $1.7 billion on  16 drugs listed in the complaint. It said it bought them in "substantial quantities" at "grossly inflated prices" as a result of the conspiracy.

5. The lawsuit cites federal data that reveals some of the drug prices spiked more than 8,000 percent over years, months or weeks.

6. Humana is seeking "damages it incurred from egregious overcharges it paid for certain widely used generic drugs, arising from a far-reaching conspiracy among defendants and others to blatantly fix the price of such drugs." It requested a jury trial and  wants to recover triple damages under the Clayton Antitrust Act.

7. The complaint frequently references a November lawsuit of 47 attorneys general representing 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and the Justice Department, filed against 18 pharmaceutical companies and two of their chief executives that alleges a conspiracy to fix generic drug prices.

8. "The United States is a venue ripe for illegal anticompetitive exploitation of prescription drug prices due to laws that regulate how prescription drugs are prescribed and how the prescriptions can be filled," Humana's complaint reads.

To access the complaint, click here.

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