Walgreens strikes $100 million deal to settle drug cartel allegations, court filing shows

Lawyers for drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance said Tuesday that the company has inked a $100 million deal with Canadian drugmaker Apotex Inc. to settle allegations that it participated in an illegal global drug-price-fixing…

Walgreens strikes $100 million deal to settle drug cartel allegations, court filing shows

Lawyers for drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance said Tuesday that the company has inked a $100 million deal with Canadian drugmaker Apotex Inc. to settle allegations that it participated in an illegal global drug-price-fixing cartel, according to filings in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Apotex, which sells a number of generic drugs in the United States, faces similar allegations.

According to a filing by Walgreens Boots Alliance and an accompanying motion to dismiss the case brought against it, the drugstore chain was one of 11 companies that engaged in the price-fixing conspiracy from January 2004 through March 2006. In return for participating in the conspiracy, Walgreens was reimbursed with a roughly $100 million discount on the price of generic drugs over the period, according to the documents.

“Walgreens wishes to underscore that these claims are without merit and we continue to assert our innocence,” the retailer said in a statement.

Walgreens was the first to settle, agreeing to pay $70 million to settle in August 2017.

Joel Forman, a Walgreens spokesman, said the company is not in the process of any further settlement payments and that the money currently in Walgreens Boots Alliance’s accounts in the United States will be used to cover the fees associated with the legal proceedings.

In a statement responding to the settlement, the Canadian company said it has received a “statement of interest” from the U.S. Department of Justice and has agreed to provide relevant information. The company said it has resolved the U.S. antitrust case in Canada.

Walgreens Boots Alliance said in court filings that it will continue to defend its innocence.

In May 2017, the DOJ filed a civil lawsuit against 10 companies over their alleged participation in the cartel, which is named in a 2014 civil complaint filed in an Illinois federal court by then-Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also announced criminal charges and fines against 15 companies. Other companies involved in the suit have settled and provided information.

The anti-cartel case is only the latest case that has tested the idea that companies that price-fix and engage in other forms of collusion can be prosecuted.

In February 2016, attorneys general in 31 states and Washington, D.C., joined in a legal effort to try to block the merger of two of the world’s largest drug companies.

The companies, Pfizer and Allergan, contend that they made the merger in order to lower prices of prescription drugs.

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