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Canadian pharmaceutical company Apotex Inc. has paid US$100 million in compensation to resolve allegations that it conspired with competitors to fix prices of prescription drugs over 15 years.

The news broke last year when Drugstore.com Inc. filed a complaint alleging that Apotex, Eli Lilly and Co., Abbott Laboratories, and GlaxoSmithKline Plc had worked together to set the price of widely prescribed prescription drugs in the United States. The company said the pharmacies that sold the drugs were bribed with discounts or promotional offers in exchange for agreeing to buy the drugs at artificially low prices. The complaint claimed that the cartel caused customers to pay more than US$2 billion.

The Justice Department followed with a lawsuit accusing Apotex, Lilly, Abbott, and Glaxo of engaging in a three-decade-long conspiracy to fix and raise the price of hundreds of drugs sold at pharmacies from 1996 to 2011.

According to a statement from Apotex, the company has also reached a settlement with the plaintiffs seeking damages, and has agreed to assist investigators. It has also implemented changes to its business practices to make them more transparent.

“We remain fully confident in the integrity of the Apotex business and its handling of transactions in the marketplace,” Todd Sherer, president and chief executive officer of Apotex, said in a statement. “We believe that our independent business advisers have conducted themselves appropriately with respect to all contracts, formulary [administrative list] approval, placement of inventory and customary payment systems.”

Apotex first settled its part of the allegations last year. As part of that deal, Apotex agreed to pay $40 million. The Justice Department said in May that a federal court had approved a final order granting it subpoena authority to compel Apotex to produce documents and evidence related to the pricing of drugs sold to U.S. pharmacy owners.

(c) 2019, Bloomberg. Written by Victoria Stilwell

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