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Overton Joins Price Fixing Lawsuit Against Pharmaceuticals

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Overton Joins Price Fixing Lawsuit Against Pharmaceuticals

Overton County will join in a larger lawsuit against a series of pharmaceutical companies regarding allegations of price fixing.

Attorney Crystal Jessee said the opioid lawsuit that the county is still involved in has revealed a processes that pharmaceutical companies are using to price fix different kinds of drugs, including insulin.

“If you pay for your own insurance, such as your county goes through the Tennessee Common Benefit Fund, if you self-fund your health insurance for your county, the depletion of insulin has ran up your health insurance prices astronomically,” Jessee said.

Jessee said investigations show that these companies have been price fixing the main brand of insulin since 2003, and the generic brand since 2012. She said the pharmaceutical distributors and manufacturers created a group called the Pharmacy Benefit Managers that allow them to legally price fix drugs when selling to retailers and doctors.

County Commissioners approved joining the lawsuit Monday night. Jessee said there are about twenty defendants in the suit, none of which are local companies.

“It’s mainly Eli Lilly and Company, Caremark, Express Scripts, United Health Group, Optimum,” Jessee said. “Optimum is the pharmacy benefit managers. So it’s big, national companies. Local pharmacies don’t know about this. They were just doing what they were told. They didn’t collude to rise the – to raise the prices of it.”

Jessee said the lawsuit would also look into any potential price-fixing for all products related to insulin, such as syringes or pumps. Jessee said three complaints have already been filed in Tennessee, and another group is working on the case in New Jersey.

“We can bypass the state filing in Tennessee and file directly in New Jersey to get on the fast track to discovery, and that’s what we’ll probably do,” Jessee said. “In opioid it was a little bit different, because we were filing first.”

She said she is unsure how much money the case could bring in for the county.

“We’re going to ask for everything,” Jessee said. “I mean, just like we did in the opioid. We’ll shoot for the moon, and then we come back and settle.”


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