Healthcare Stocks Crater: DOJ Preparing Massive Probe Into Generic Drug Price-Fixing

Generic drug-maker stocks are collapsing following headlines suggesting the Justice Department's probe into collusion and drastic price increases will see the first charges brought by year-end.

As Bloomberg reports, U.S. prosecutors are bearing down on generic pharmaceutical companies in a sweeping criminal investigation into suspected price collusion, a fresh challenge for an industry that’s already reeling from public outrage over the spiraling costs of some medicines.

The antitrust investigation by the Justice Department, begun about two years ago, now spans more than a dozen companies and about two dozen drugs, according to people familiar with the matter. The grand jury probe is examining whether some executives agreed with one another to raise prices, and the first charges could emerge by the end of the year, they said.

 

Though individual companies have made various disclosures about the inquiry, they have identified only a handful of drugs under scrutiny, including a heart treatment and an antibiotic. Among the drugmakers to have received subpoenas are industry giants Mylan NV and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Other companies include Actavis, which Teva bought from Allergan Plc in August, Lannett Co., Impax Laboratories Inc., Covis Pharma Holdings Sarl, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Mayne Pharma Group Ltd., Endo International Plc’s subsidiary Par Pharmaceutical Holdings and Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

And they are all being sold hard:

Among the companies that have received subpoenas:

  • Endo down as much as 18%
  • Impax Labs -12%
  • Teva -9.5%
  • Mylan -7.1%
  • Lannett -21%
  • Mallinckrodt also fell, down as much as 6.8%

As Bloomberg reminds readers, while attention so far has been focused mainly on branded drugs, which are more expensive, the Justice Department probe is now bringing the generics industry into the fray.

While the government may bring the first cases by the end of December, the situation is fluid and timing could slip, according to the people. The investigation is likely to continue after the first cases are filed, said the people, and has the potential to mirror the antitrust division’s long-running probe into auto-parts cartels. That price-fixing investigation has resulted in $2.8 billion in penalties and charges against 46 companies and 65 individuals, of which 31 received prison sentences, according to the Justice Department.

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So did the pharma industry just change its vote from Hillary to Trump, and which industry that makes "too much profit" is next?