Once Upon a Time in Federal CourtOn January 14, so called Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli was found personally liable for antitrust claims brought by the FTC and 7 State AGs. His company Vyera raised the price of medication Daraprim by 4000% after it purchased the drug. The parasitic brain infection the drug treats is especially deadly and according to doctors could only be treated with Daraprim. Shkreli then worked to prevent manufacturers from successfully competing in the generic drug market.

Although Shkreli’s prison sentence began in 2017, the court said he continued to exert his influence over the company, which in December agreed to pay $40 million for its part. The former CEO is now banned from the pharmaceutical industry for life. While a lifetime ban may seem like an extreme remedy, be mindful that State AGs don’t reserve this punishment for those in prison, and have imposed industry bans in other actions and industries. Shkreli has also been ordered to pay disgorgement to the states in $64.6 million. As part of his criminal judgment, he had already lost several assets including his prized Wu-Tang Clan album, a source inspiration for General James’ words of condemnation in her victory press release. Another executive Kevin Mulleady also settled, paying $10 million.

State AGs have been extremely active in the pharmaceutical antitrust space in recent years, including when it comes to generic drug pricing. Specifically, State AGs have alleged that generic drug manufacturers of topical products conspired to inflate prices and reduce competition.  Most of the State AGs have been investigating the practice since 2016, with defendants now numbering in the dozens in their 3rd Amended Complaint. The states are caught up in an MDL, but their bellwether trial on dermatology treatments will be the first up.
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Commissioners Cut Procedures, Rescind Policy, Empower Staff, Target Tech

With an unprecedented attack on policies the Federal Trade Commission had long embraced, the new majority of Democratic Commissioners revealed a bold enforcement agenda that would circumvent Supreme Court decisions and avoid Congressional limits.

It was a meeting like none the Federal Trade Commission has ever held. On one week’s notice, the Commission adopted new rules to impose civil penalties on substandard Made-in-USA claims, removed judges and safeguards from rulemaking proceedings, rescinded its 2015 enforcement policy statement on unfair methods of competition, and granted staff more authority to issue subpoenas and civil investigative demands. The vote on every issue followed party lines. Republican Commissioners, Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson, voted against all, and the Democratic Commissioners, Chopra, Khan, and Slaughter, rejected all amendments. Chair Khan announced that public meetings will become regular events at the FTC.
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The Decision

1-800-Contacts is one of the largest sellers of contacts online.  One of the principal ways consumers shop for contacts is through key word searches.  In the past, certain 1-800-Contacts competitors purchased the keyword “1-800-Contacts.”  That would place their advertisements at the top of the list of results.  1-800-Contacts sued these companies for trademark

Bill MacLeod and other panelists representing antitrust and consumer protection bureaus from across the country discussed recent enforcement activities and the ongoing missions of state enforcement agencies during the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Section Virtual Spring Meeting.

Watch the replay here.

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