Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio and Trial Magazine Executive Editor Farron Cousins take a look at an anti-trust lawsuit against the companies involved in an investigation into collusion and price fixing in a scheme that involves more than 300 different prescription drugs.

Transcript:

*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             For the last two years, lawyers and investigators have been looking into 16 different drug companies for colluding with one another to keep the prices of their generic drugs higher than necessary. This investigation has already sparked an antitrust lawsuit, but that’s only the beginning. I have Farron Cousins from Trial Lawyer Magazine. He’s the chief editor for that magazine to talk about it. Farron you’ve covered this story for a lot of years. A matter of fact, one of the first additions that came out for, for that magazine, you did kind of an expose on this. It just never stops.

Here we’ve got these companies, and let me lay it out just a little bit. You’ve got companies that are taking drugs that have been on the market for 10 or 15 years. These are generic companies and they have developed their own, their own lingo for saying let’s fix prices. Literally their own lingo is, one thing, one part of the lingo is we’re playing in the sandbox and that that means that the generic drug companies are calling themselves the sandbox. The other one is we want a fair share.

When they use that lingo, that means we’re getting ready to set a price, and when they use the term, it’s incredible. Trashing the market means that somebody in the sandbox is saying, no, we’re not going to do that. This story folks need to go to prison for. Give me your, give me your take on it.

Farron Cousins:                  Absolutely. What we found out over the last few years here is that 16 at least that we know of at the moment, generic drug companies who were supposed to be the good guys. You know, the generic drugs are the cheaper alternatives. We don’t have to pay the 20,000 percent markup, but it turns out in this investigation that is now involves 47 different states have joined it. We’re paying a 2000 percent markup on drugs that are costing fractions of a penny to produce.And there’s text messages, there are emails, there are documents that talk about this lingo that you’ve described here and what it is, and I actually took the time and made a little drawing here to help you really understand what the sandbox is.

The sandbox means that each of these generic makers is going to get a corner of the sandbox, an equal amount and the sandbox is the market. The sandbox are the pharmacies. So say drug maker A says I get CVS and only CVS. Drug maker B says, okay, I’ll take Walgreens. Drug maker C says I’m going to do McKesson, and then drug maker D says, okay, I get all the Rite Aid stores, so that means in sharing the sandbox, if you go to say CVS and you get a generic prescription drug because your doctor prescribes you an antibiotic, your insurance says to go generic, consumer has no choice in it, CVS only has the one generic version of it. That’s what you’re sold. Same thing with, if it’s a Walgreens or a Rite Aid, whatever it is, they’ve split up each individual pharmacy so that they have that market controlled. That’s the fair share.

And there’s text messages, there are emails, there are documents that talk about this lingo that you’ve described here and what it is, and I actually took the time and made a little drawing here to help you really understand what the sandbox is. The sandbox means that each of these generic makers is going to get a corner of the sandbox, an equal amount and the sandbox is the market. The sandbox are the pharmacies. So say drug maker A says I get CVS and only CVS. Drug maker B says, okay, I’ll take Walgreens. Drug maker C says I’m going to do McKesson, and then drug maker D says, okay, I get all the Rite Aid stores, so that means in sharing the sandbox, if you go to say CVS and you get a generic prescription drug because your doctor prescribes you an antibiotic, your insurance says to go generic, consumer has no choice in it, CVS only has the one generic version of it. That’s what you’re sold. Same thing with, if it’s a Walgreens or a Rite Aid, whatever it is, they’ve split up each individual pharmacy so that they have that market controlled. That’s the fair share.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay, I want to name some names because this is, this is very serious. I want to name some names. The people involved with one of the companies, a fellow named Glazer, he’s with, and another company, Jason Malek, Heritage. These are people that have sat down and they have actually gone about saying, we know that the government gives us special rights to be generic. That’s the first thing. We have special rights because we’re a generic company.

One of the rights is is they get to avoid all of the, they get to avoid a big part of the lawsuits that are brought against the companies that make the drug initially, so that’s the trade off that they get. So you got Glazer meeting with Jason Malek and meeting with this other cat. His name is Rajiv Malik. They’re all sitting in a room and they have these meetings called girls’ night out. That’s why they call them.

That’s their term girls’ night out. Where they go to these exotic restaurants all over, all over the world and they sit in the restaurants and they talk in this lingo, the lingo being, we’re in the sandbox, let’s all play fair, let’s not trash the sandbox, and what that’s code for is everybody in the room knows you need to raise the prices of your drugs. The important thing is these are drugs that have been on the market 10 and 15 years. There’s absolutely zero rationale for it and the raising the amount of 2000 and 3000 percent. So those are the facts right now.

A Connecticut attorney general’s involved in it. We’re going to be involved in it. We’re going to go after Mr. Glazer. We’re going to go after Mr. Malek and we’re going to go after Mr. Rajiv. Personally, we’re going to, we, they will be sitting across the table from me in depositions. I promise you. And the same questions we’re going to be asking them are going to be the same questions, I’m sure that the Connecticut, the Connecticut Attorney General’s asking. What, how do you see this being reversed? Because at this point they’ve been sued.

They know they’re being criminally investigated by the Attorney General’s office there in Connecticut. They’re criminal issues. One person has already pled, one of the thugs has already pled and he’s turning on the, on these other characters I’m talking about. So give me your take on where this is and where it goes.

Farron Cousins:                  I think, you know, in terms of taking down this, you know, legal drug cartel, which is what they’ve become, prescription drug cartel, taking them down, it is definitely going to happen. This investigation, this massive report alone is going to be enough to put the pressure on them to where even if the lawsuits don’t do what we need them to, which they will anyway, it’s going to severely hinder their ability to do this anymore.

The problem is all of consumers who paid these exorbitant prices for no other reason than they had to have this medication. Where’s the remedy for them? Where does the remedy for the pharmacies who got ripped off?

Mike Papantonio:             If you’re an independent pharmacy, let’s say you’re an independent pharmacy, you have been hammered by this and if you’re an independent pharmacy, you need to do something about it collectively. There are organizations throughout the country, all the independent pharmacies that band together. This needs to be handled because if this goes on and they get away with this, it affects the pharmacy. It affects the relationship the pharmacy has with their clients.

It affects the credibility of that pharmacist behind the desk and saying, day one, this pill cost 17 cents. Now it cost $4. Please explain that to me. So it almost looks like the pharmacist is the person behind this, but this Jeff Glazer, I want to say right up front, Jeff Glazer and these other folks involved. I don’t know what the federal government’s going to do, but I know what we’re going to do about it and, and they’re going to have a bad day.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.