The Arizona Attorney General's Office has filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against the nation's largest wholesaler of prescription drugs.
The suit by Attorney General Tom Horne says McKesson Corporation illegally conspired with retailers, beginning in 2000, for an unjustified increase in the wholesale and retail price of some of the most popular prescription drugs in an effort to boost profits.
According to the lawsuit, McKesson conspired with many of the largest retail chains – including Walgreens, Costco, Target, Albertson's, Walmart – to raise drug prices when an increase wasn't justified. As a result, the suit says, McKesson's action raised the price of medications to Arizona consumers – and thus the overall cost of health care – by millions of dollars per year over the last 12 years.
“The prices of nearly all brand-name prescription drugs were inflated, including several of the most popular drugs on the market,” Horne said. “For example, in 2004 under this scheme, an additional McKesson markup of 5 percent for the drug Nexium could result in an added $100 million in profit based on $4 billion in sales of Nexium that year. Since this claim alleges markup irregularities on more than 400 drugs over multiple years, the consumer damages were enormous."
The lawsuit asks a civil penalty of $10,000 per incident. With millions of prescriptions sold in the state since 2000, Horne says the potential penalty against McKesson is huge.