Teva, generic drugmakers may soon resolve price-fixing probe

Teva Pharmaceutical and other generic drugmakers may be close to resolving a yearslong federal investigation alleging they conspired to raise prices of commonly used drugs, according to Bloomberg

The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating more than a dozen generic drugmakers since 2014, accusing them of price-fixing and dividing up the market to make higher profits, which lawmakers say has cost federal health programs billions of dollars. 

People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg Teva has met with federal prosecutors multiple times this summer and fall to discuss deferred prosecution agreements, in which the company would admit to certain allegations but be immune to indictment in exchange for cooperating and paying fines. 

A timetable for when such agreements may be reached is unknown, and it isn't guaranteed any of the drugmakers will reach an agreement with prosecutors. The government could still indict any of the companies. 

However, a criminal conviction could stop a drugmaker from doing business with Medicare and Medicaid and drive up prices, while the Trump administration is trying to drive down costs and increase access. A deferred prosecution agreement would allow a drugmaker to do business with the government and preserve sales and prosecutors to avoid a conviction that would limit competition and increase prices. 

Prosecutors reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Heritage Pharmaceuticals in May, when two executives pleaded guilty to price-fixing conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors have hinted several times this year that charges against the drugmakers will happen soon, according to Bloomberg. People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg former Teva employees and a former Sandoz employee recently met with prosecutors to help them build their case. 

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