Robins Kaplan Files Class Action Against Martin Shkreli and His Former Companies on Behalf of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Shkreli, a Convicted Felon, Increased the Price of Daraprim by 4,000%

March 4, 2021

Minneapolis, Minn. and New York, NY. (March 4, 2020) —Today, on behalf of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross), Robins Kaplan LLP filed the first private lawsuit in the country against Martin Shkreli, the former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals (now Vyera Pharmaceuticals), and three other defendants for illegally monopolizing the market for Daraprim—a once-affordable, life-saving drug, which increased in price by more than 4,000 percent under Shkreli’s leadership.

Daraprim is the gold-standard treatment for toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be fatal for those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or compromised immune systems. By hiking the price from $17.50 to $750 per pill, Blue Cross claims Shkreli and his co-defendants endangered the health of vulnerable patients while illegally blocking lower-cost generic versions. The other defendants named in the lawsuit are Vyera Pharmaceuticals, Phoenixus AG (Vyera’s parent company), and Kevin Mulleady (Vyera’s former CEO).

“The magnitude of harm caused by the alleged violations of Martin Shkreli and his co-defendants cannot be overstated. They lined their pockets by jeopardizing access to a life-saving drug while thwarting generic competition,” says Kellie Lerner, co-chair of Robins Kaplan’s Antitrust and Trade Regulation Group. “On behalf of our client Blue Cross and other health plans, we are asking the court to put an end to the defendants’ scheme and recover what we allege are significant illegal overcharges borne by class members.”

The class action lawsuit, brought on behalf of Blue Cross and other health plans, parallels a similar suit brought by the Federal Trade Commission and several state Attorneys General. The proposed class consists of third-party payers that indirectly purchased or provided reimbursement for Daraprim since August 7, 2015.

“Everyone deserves access to safe, effective, and affordable medication,” said Dr. Craig Samitt, president and CEO at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. “This lawsuit is an important step in advancing that goal. Drug companies need to be held accountable for their role in making sure health care costs are sustainable for all.”

Robins Kaplan and Blue Cross have a history of jointly prosecuting anticompetitive conduct in the healthcare industry. Two decades ago, they pioneered a multibillion-dollar settlement against Big Tobacco, one of the first of its kind in the nation. They also secured a major jury verdict in a similar monopolization case related to the anti-anxiety drugs lorazepam and clorazepate.

The Daraprim lawsuit was filed in federal district court in the Southern District of New York. Blue Cross is represented by partners Kellie Lerner and Ben Steinberg.

About Robins Kaplan LLP®

Robins Kaplan is among the nation’s premier trial law firms, with more than 250 lawyers located in Bismarck, N.D.; Boston; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New York; Silicon Valley; and Sioux Falls, S.D. The firm litigates, mediates, and arbitrates high-stakes, complex disputes, repeatedly earning national recognition. Firm clients include—as both plaintiffs and defendants—numerous Fortune 500 corporations, emerging markets companies, entrepreneurs, and individuals.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

For nearly 90 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (bluecrossmn.com) has supported the health, wellbeing and peace of mind of our members by striving to ensure equitable access to high quality care at an affordable price. We are on a mission to inspire change, transform care and improve health for the people and communities we serve by reinventing both ourselves and the broader system. Our more than 2.5 million members can be found in every Minnesota county, all 50 states and on four continents. As a proud nonprofit organization, we believe working to advance wellness for all Minnesotans is the greatest investment we can make. Our goal is nothing less than for everyone to be able to achieve their full health potential, regardless of race or other socially defined circumstances. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, which serves more than 107 million members across the U.S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kellie Lerner

Partner

Co-Chair, Antitrust and Trade Regulation Group;
Pronouns: she/her

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