California filed a complaint and settled with T.Rad Co, a maker of automobile radiators and automatic transmission fluid warmers, alleging that the company rigged bids and fixed the prices of its parts from at least 2002 to 2010. California received $162,500 in damages and attorneys fees and Florida received $81,250.T.RAD agreed to cooperate with the states by providing documents and information related to the investigations into the price fixing conspiracy.
Plaintiff state filed action in federal court alleging market allocation and price-fixing among manufacturers of the chemical liquid aluminum sulfate, which is a coagulant used to remove impurities and other substances from water. It is used primarily by municipalities in wastewater treatment. There are high barriers to entry and substitution is difficult. There have been several USDOJ indictments in the industry. The complaint alleged that the defendants conspired to circumvent competitive bidding and independent pricing and to raise liquid aluminum sulfate prices by submitting artificially inflated bids in Florida from 1997 through at least February 2012. The state alleged that fraudulent concealment of the conspiracy tolled the statute of limitations.
Plaintiff states alleged that the makers of Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, engaged in a scheme to block generic competitors and raise prices. Specifically, they are conspiring to wtich Suboxone from a tablet version to a flim in order to prevent or delay generic entry. The states allege that the manufacturers engaged in “product hopping” in which a company makes slight changes to its product to extend patent protections and prvent generic alternatives. The complaint was filed under seal.
In the Matter of NFL Ticketing Investigation, Assurance No. 16-181(NY Attorney General Antitrust Bureau (Nov. 15, 2016)
Plaintiff states entered into a settlement agreement with the National Football League under which the NFL would discontinue its league-wide mandatory price floor (no tickets could be sold on the NFL secondary market platform for a price less than a season ticket holder’s price) and would not direct or require ticketing practices designed to preclude fans from using competing ticket exchanges.
Twenty states filed a federal lawsuit against six generic drug manufacturers, alleging that they entered into long-running and well coordinated illegal conspiracies in order to unreasonably restrain trade, artificially inflate and manipulate prices and reduce competition in the United States for two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication. The lawsuit was filed under seal to avoid compromising a continuing investigation. In the complaint, the states allege that the misconduct was conceived and carried out by senior drug company executives and their marketing and sales executives. The complaint further alleges that the defendants routinely coordinated their schemes through direct interaction with their competitors at industry trade shows, customer conferences and other events, as well as through direct email, phone and text message communications. The states further allege that the drug companies knew that their conduct was illegal and made efforts to avoid communicating with each other in writing or, in some instances, to delete written communications after becoming aware of the investigation. The states allege the anticompetitive conduct, including price-fixing and price maintenance, market allocation and other anticompetitive acts, caused significant, harmful and continuing effects in the country’s healthcare system. The states sought an injunction to prevent the companies from engaging in illegal, anticompetitive behavior and also sought equitable relief, including disgorgement. An additional 20 states joined the complaint in March 2017.
In May 2015, the FTC settled a “pay-for-delay” suit against Cephalon for injunctive relief and $1.2 billion, which was paid into an escrow account. The FTC settlement allowed for those escrow funds to be distributed for settlement of certain related cases and government investigations. In August 2016, forty-eight states filed suit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against Cephalon alleging anticompetitive conduct by Cephalon to protect the profits it earned from having a patent-protected monopoly on the sale of its landmark drug, Provigil. According to the complaint, Cephalon’s conduct delayed generic versions of Provigil from entering the market for several years. The complaint alleged that as patent and regulatory barriers that prevented generic competition to Provigil neared expiration, Cephalon intentionally defrauded the Patent and Trademark Office to secure an additional patent, which a court subsequently deemed invalid and unenforceable. Before it was declared invalid, Cephalon was able to use the patent to delay generic competition for nearly six additional years by filing patent infringement lawsuits. Cephalon settled those lawsuits by paying competitors to delay sale of their generic versions of Provigil until at least April 2012. Consumers, states, and others paid millions more for Provigil than they would have had generic versions of the drug launched by early 2006, as expected. A settlement was filed with the complaint, which includes $35 million for distribution to consumers who bought Provigil.
U.S. DOJ and plaintiff states sued to block the merger of two of the country’s largest health insurers. According to the complaint, alleges that their merger would substantially reduce Medicare Advantage competition in more than 350 counties in 21 states, affecting more than 1.5 million Medicare Advantage customers in those counties. Before seeking to acquire Humana, Aetna had pursued aggressive expansion in Medicare Advantage. Aetna, the nation’s fourth-largest Medicare Advantage insurer by membership, has nearly doubled its Medicare Advantage footprint over the past four years. Humana is the nation’s second-largest Medicare Advantage insurer by membership. The lawsuit also alleges that Aetna’s purchase of Humana would substantially reduce competition to sell commercial health insurance to individuals and families on the public exchanges in 17 counties in Florida, Georgia and Missouri, affecting more than 700,000 people in those counties. The lawsuit alleges that by buying Humana, Aetna would eliminate one of its strongest and most capable competitors in these markets. The district court granted the injunction, rejecting the parties arguments that the Medicare Advantage and Medicare programs were competing products that constrained one another’s prices, and noting that Aetna’s exit from several markets, allegedly because of the Affordable Care Act, appeared to be designed to eliminate a problem with the merger, rather than being an unrelated business decision.
Eighteen plaintiff states and the FTC challenged the merger of Dollar Tree, the largest chain of “dollar” stores (deep discount stores) and Family Dollar Stores, the nation’s third largest dollar store chain. The complaint claimed the proposed acquisition would substantially lessen competition in numerous markets by: (1) eliminating direct and substantial competition between Dollar Tree and Family Dollar; and (2) increasing the likelihood that Dollar Tree will unilaterally exercise market power. This, according to the complaint, would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act and each state’s applicable antitrust and consumer protection laws. The states sought a permanent injunction to prevent the merger, along with costs and attorney fees. The parties reached a settlement under which 330 stores in the 18 states would be divested to Sycamore partners and run as a new dollar store chain, Dollar Express. The agreement also required the defendants to report future acquisitions in any of the affected markets and to pay over $865,000 to reimburse the costs and fees of the plaintiff states.
The FTC and states alleged that the companies had entered into a “pay-for-delay” arrangement, whereby Perrigo paid Alpharma to withdraw its generic version from the market for Children’t ibuprofen.According to the complaint, in June 1998, Perrigo and Alpharma signed an agreement allocating to Perrigo the sale of OTC children’s liquid ibuprofen for seven years. In exchange for agreeing not to compete, Alpharma received an up-front payment and a royalty on Perrigo’s sales of children’s liquid ibuprofen. The FTC received $6.25 million to compensate injured consumers. The states received $1.5 million in lieu of civil penalties. the parties were enjoined from future agreements.
State alleged price-fixing in the market for automotive ball bearings, including bearings used throughout the automobile, from 2000 to the present. The defendants control 75 percent of the market, and entry is not easy. Several of the defendants entered guilty pleas to criminal charges brought by USDOJ.