KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Attorneys general in Kansas and Missouri said Monday they have signed to a multi-state lawsuit against several generic drug manufacturers for manipulating prices for more than 100 generic drugs.
“By joining this lawsuit we’re sending a clear message to pharmaceutical companies: if you harm any of the 6 million people that call Missouri home, we will pursue action and hold you accountable for your actions,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement.
Schmitt’s Kansas counterpart, Derek Schmidt, issued a release saying the drugs mentioned in the lawsuit amounted to billions of dollars of sales in the United States.
The 40-state suit names 20 of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers, including Teva Pharmaceuticals, which has a location in Overland Park.
Teva has not responded to a request for comment.
Health officials around the Kansas City metro said if the allegations in the suit are true, they will have impacted many people in the U.S.
"For our low-income patients, and many of them are uninsured, their generic medications are there to help them get healthy or stay healthy," said Kamile Johnson, director of pharmacy services at KC Care Health Center.
Johnson said she has had to explain to patients why their prescriptions are going up in price.
"If you don't have insurance, you may notice,” she said. “Also, increases in health care costs can go up for the insurer, so the insurance company can also potentially pass that increase onto the patient.”
The medications named in the lawsuit are those that people use in the everyday lives for conditions such as cholesterol, cancer, diabetes and more. The companies allegedly hiked the cost of the medications anywhere from 400 percent to 1,000 percent from 2013 to 2015.
"The generic market was developed in order to keep prices low for consumers, to have competition in the market to where once a patent expired on a medication, multiple manufacturers could enter the market," said Amanda Applegate, president of the Kansas Pharmacists Association.
Applegate said this is one of the reasons that dozens of small pharmacies in the state were forced to close over the last few years.
"Something that was $5, $5 is what we're getting paid by the insurance companies. Then the next time (the pharmacies) go to purchase it and it's $180, the insurance companies in many cases still want to pay us $5 for it," Applegate said.