In the first case in nearly three decades involving criminal antitrust charges under Ohio’s Valentine Act, a supplier of traffic control devices pleaded guilty to two felony counts in connection with bids submitted to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Quattro, Inc. pleaded guilty to one count of entering into an unlawful combination, contract, or agreement with the intent to limit or fix the price and one count of attempting to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity. Quattro submitted multiple quotes from itself and several related companies to meet ODOT’s required number of quotes and give an appearance of competition. Quattro also worked with an unnamed co-conspirator to submit prearranged quotes for traffic control devices. Quattro paid $32,800 in restitution to ODOT and $10,000 to the state, and agreed to continue cooperating with the investigation.
Plaintiff states alleged that defendant, the producer of Lidoderm (pain medication), paid or incentivized generic drug makers to delay entry into market to protect its monopoly on Lidoderm. (“pay for delay”) The settlement agreement, which expires in twenty years, prohibits Teikoku from entering into agreements that restrict generic drug manufacturers from researching, manufacturing, marketing, or selling products for a period of time and requires Teikoku to cooperate in an ongoing investigation into similarly anticompetitive conduct by other drug manufacturers, among other things.
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.
State and FTC sought preliminary injunction in connection with an already consummated acquisition by Promedica of St. Luke’s hospital. The complaint alleged that ProMedica’s acquisition of St. Luke’s eliminated significant price and non-price competition between the two firms in both the general acute-care and inpatient obstetrical markets in Lucas County. According to the complaint, the acquisition also vests ProMedica with the ability to demand higher rates for services performed at its other hospitals as well, because the addition of St. Luke’s to the ProMedica hospital system has made ProMedica a “must-have” system for health plans seeking to do business in Lucas County, as plans can no longer offer consumers a viable provider network without including ProMedica’s hospitals. The preliminary injunction was granted, and the FTC proceeded with an administrative proceeding.
State alleged that two rock salt producers had agreed to divide up the Ohio market for rock salt, assigning different contracts to the two different producers. State alleged that the defendants actively submitted sham losing bids, which also excluded other bidders because Ohio’s “Buy Ohio” provisions give a preference to Ohio companies if at least two Ohio producers submit bids.The parties settled in June 2015 with a payments totaling $11.5 million.
AT&T sought to acquire T-Mobile. The transaction would have combined two of the only four wireless carriers with nationwide networks. US DOJ and six states filed suite to block the merger. The parties abandoned the merger three months later.