US authorities have charged six companies of price fixing in the US, India, and Australia. Drugmakers Mylan, Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical USA and Citron Pharma are named in the lawsuit alongside India’s Aurobindo Pharma and Australia’s Mayne Pharmaceuticals.

Image via Tax Rebate.

Big Pharma companies have gotten a nasty reputation and unfortunately, they seem hellbent on keeping it that way. Just a few days ago we were telling you how Mylan is heavily overcharging a life-saving drug, while in 2015 we were highlighting some severe issues with drug test trials. The fact that most companies invest more in advertising than in research is also well documented. All in all, big pharma has a bad name – and at least partially, they deserve it.

At this point, no one has been convicted yet, but Connecticut’s Attorney General George Jepsen supervised a two-year investigation which he claims has solid evidence against all the companies above. He stated that the lawsuit is  just “the tip of the iceberg”, saying price fixing in the generic industry was “widespread and pervasive”, involving “many other drugs and a number of other companies.” The illegal deals were reportedly struck over steak dinners and “girls nights out.”

Heritage Pharmaceuticals has been accused of being the “principal architect” of the price fixing. The company has already been involved in a 2014 congressional inquiry about the rising price of doxycycline hyclate, an investigation initiated by Elijah Cummings and Bernie Sanders. The price of doxycycline in the US rose from 20 to $1,849 in just seven months. Heritage and Mayne have announced that they are collaborating with investigators and have not yet denied allegations. Mylan, Teva and Aurobindo have denied the allegations and Citron Pharma was not available for comment.

This comes just after Pfizer, one of the world’s largest companies, has been fined a record £84.2m (over $100m) for overcharging the British national health system.

But it’s important to note that while the pharmaceutical industry has a number of aspects which justly deserve criticism, the “demonization” of all pharmaceutical companies – and most importantly, their products – is lazy and incorrect. Many pseudo-science outlets advocate against using modern medicine and replacing them with syrups, teas, or other plain products. No one is saying you shouldn’t drink tea (on the contrary, most are good for you), but in most cases, there’s really no substitute for modern medicine and anyone trying to convince you of the contrary is advocating false science. Don’t let a few greedy companies ruin what countless brilliant minds took centuries to develop.

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