The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Thursday said the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is the best place to consolidate lawsuits accusing Mylan, Sandoz Inc. and other pharmaceutical companies of fixing prices on generic drugs, and expanded the case to include eight products instead of only two.
The JPML said that 10 cases by direct purchasers should be consolidated to eliminate duplicative discovery regarding allegations that pharmaceutical companies orchestrated a price-fixing scheme related to their generic brands. Siding with drug wholesaler Rochester Drug Co-Operative Inc., the panel said pretrial schedules in some of the actions are already set, and that consolidation is necessary.
“Although separate conspiracies are alleged, they may overlap significantly,” the JPML wrote. “Thus, the same witnesses are likely to be subject to discovery across all actions. Coordination of this common discovery will be essential to avoiding duplication and inconvenience to the parties, witnesses and the courts.”
Additionally, the panel found that while the initial motion to transfer only covered digoxin and doxycycline, it agreed with Rochester’s argument that the case should be expanded to include an additional six drugs, pointing to the fact that they are all part of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the alleged scheme. The drugs are clobetasol, desonide, fluocinonide, econazole, levothyroxine and propranolol.
The JPML shot down assertions by other plaintiffs and the drug companies that this addition would create a wider array of liability issues that could slow down the MDL process. All of the cases will be handled by U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe.
It also noted that there was some concern among the panel because the cases involved more than 20 different defendants, including Par Pharmaceutical, Actavis Elizabeth LLC and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. But the JPML said that the similarity in their alleged roles in the conspiracies as well as in their counsel assuaged its reservations.
Also on Thursday, the JPML consolidated an additional 27 indirect-purchaser plaintiff cases brought by employee benefit plans and others in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, citing their similarity to the lawsuits by Rochester and the direct purchasers. These indirect purchasers had asked the JPML back in May to move the case to Pennsylvania. The cases are spread between the Southern District of New York, the District of New Jersey and the District of Puerto Rico.
The JPML said Thursday that there are approximately 70 total cases concerning the price-fixing allegations across four districts and in front of 10 judges.
With some variation, the lawsuits contend that generic drug prices have been on the rise in general over the last several years without any justification, which has led to investigations by Congress, the DOJ and state attorneys general into possible price-fixing schemes.
The lawsuits said the companies likely colluded on prices during trade association meetings and other industry gatherings, such as those for the Generic Pharmaceutical Association.
Rochester is represented by David F. Sorensen, Nick Urban and Zachary D. Caplan of Berger & Montague PC, Peter Kohn and Joseph T. Lukens of Faruqi & Faruqi LLP, and Barry S. Taus, Kevin Landau and Archana Tamoshunas of Taus Cebulash & Landau LLP.
The indirect purchasers are represented by attorneys from Labaton Sucharow LLP, Fine Kaplan & Black RPC, Goldman Scarlato & Penny PC, Hausfeld LLP, Lite Depalma Greenberg LLC, Hach Rose Schirippa & Cheverie LLP, Sarraf Gentile LLP, Lockridge Grindal Nauen PLLP, Bolognese & Associates LLC, Carson Lynch Ltd., Spector Roseman Kodroff & Willis PC, Freed Kanner London & Millen LLC, Christian Sande LLC, Pomerantz LLP, Nussbaum Law Group PC, Shepherd Finkelman Miller & Shah LLP, Barrack Rodos & Bacine, Saveri & Saveri Inc., Hadsell Stormer & Renick LLP, Bonsignore Trial Lawyers PLLC, Steyer Lowenthal Boodrookas Alvarez & Smith LLP, Law Offices of Marc Henzel, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP and Cavanagh & O’Hara.
The drug companies are represented by attorneys from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC, Mcdermott Will & Emery LLP, Fox Rothschild LLP, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, Dechert LLP, Venable LLP, O’Melveny & Myers LLP, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, Greenberg Traurig LLP, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, Pepper Hamilton LLP and Stevens & Lee.
The case is In re: Generic Pharmaceuticals Pricing Antitrust Litigation, MDL number 2724, in the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.