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How Allergan Gamed the System to Spike Prices and Sell Opioids

FTC Should Hold Corporation Accountable While Reviewing Proposed Merger with AbbVie

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The federal government needs to prevent further dubious profit-boosting tactics, including paying off competitors, by pharmaceutical manufacturer Allergan as it seeks another massive merger, Public Citizen outlined today in a new report.

Allergan made headlines in 2015 when it pledged to limit its price increases after “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli jacked up the price of HIV treatment Daraprim. Allergan committed to a better way. But a close examination of the corporation’s record reveals a catalogue of abuses:

  • Spiking prices of 33 medicines in 2020 alone;
  • Inappropriately marketing drugs including 26 billion opioid pills sold by Allergan’s former subsidiary;
  • Paying off competitors, tweaking old products and filing sham petitions to delay generic competition; and
  • Using patent monopolies to set outrageous prices.

Allergan has gone by three different names this decade, including Actavis and Watson Pharmaceuticals, to shed its tarnished image and escape public scrutiny. The FTC has taken more than a dozen actions against Allergan, but its abuses have largely continued.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reviewing a proposed merger of Allergan and AbbVie, which would create the world’s fourth-largest drugmaker and is expected to announce its decision in coming weeks. Public Citizen’s report urges the FTC to take all necessary action, including blocking the merger, to prevent further anticompetitive schemes.

“We shouldn’t reward bad companies with big payouts,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “The FTC must step in and stop Allergan, before things get a lot worse through yet another major pharma merger.”

The report also discusses bipartisan proposals Congress can enact to limit these abuses which would stop attempts to undermine cost-cutting generic competition.

“Allergan has an astonishingly bad record, but it is not alone,” said Zain Rizvi, law and policy researcher in Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program and author of the report. “Congress has an unprecedented opportunity to make medicines affordable and hold pharmaceutical corporations accountable. People deserve better.”

Read the full report here.