NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Local drugstore customers say they welcome a new push to try and bring spiraling generic drug costs under control. The Louisiana attorney general has joined 45 of his counterparts from across the country in a major crackdown.
When it comes to buying prescription drugs, customers like Allen Mangerchine are feeling squeezed.
“I think it’s a runaway train and will continue to do so for awhile unless they do something about it,” he said.
Mangerchine’s neighborhood pharmacist said for several decades, drug prices, especially for generics, have been out of control.
“I took a brand name drug the other day that sold for $800 in the size tube that it was, it was three times the price of gold,” said Al Spitale with Majoria’s Drugs.
Now, litigation is taking shape in 46 states. It began four years ago when the attorney general of Connecticut found that generic drug companies were allegedly conspiring to fix prices.
“Literally one executive sends another an email with a list of eight to 14 drugs, detailing the price increase they want to make and the timing, and asking them if they are on board with that price increase,” said Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen.
Jepsen said the U.S. Justice Department has launched its own investigation, as have the attorneys general in dozens of other states, including Louisiana.
“This is a generic drug cartel where they divided up the market share,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
Some drug makers are already feeling the pinch.
“There are settlement negotiations that I can’t be specific about,” said Jepsen.
Spitale said there are already signs that this litigation may be working.
"Some generic prices are actually starting to drop," said Spitale.
But he said there’s still a long way to go.
“I think it’s all collusion. We will have one come out from one manufacturer, and a month later it will come out from another manufacturer, and it’s the same price. You tell me that’s a coincidence,” said Spitale.
The attorney general of Connecticut says 2019 will be a big year when it comes to litigation against the drug companies.
"The companies will have a huge incentive to settle," said Jepsen.
He said drug price fixing costs individuals and corporations billions each year.
We reached out to the pharmaceutical manufacturer’s organization for comment on the litigation, but have not heard back.