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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Justice Dept. recovers over $340 million in corporate lawsuits

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández

By The Star Staff

The island Justice Department will close the year with more than $340 million in recovered funds, the result of multiple lawsuits filed against multinational companies and representing the rights of Puerto Ricans and particularly vulnerable populations.

Justice Secretary Domingo Emanuelli Hernández noted that through the agency’s Division of Monopolistic Affairs, the agency has focused its efforts on the defense of citizens, filing a series of legal claims against companies that have engaged in deceptive practices. Collections resulting from those claims, to date, represent $344,557,580 in new revenue for the island government, with more to be received in stages.

The Justice Department has several active lawsuits against companies from which they have demanded financial compensation to correct the damages caused by their illegal practices, which affect the health and access to medicines of the population, the economic situation of university students and water quality, among other impacts.

Emanuelli said the actions taken by the agency he heads will translate into direct services to citizens. Among the settlements are those brought against companies involved in the opioid epidemic and manufacturers of e-cigarettes.

The Monopolistic Affairs team represented the commonwealth government in the lawsuit against insulin manufacturers Eli Lilly & Co., Eli Lilly Export, Novo Nordisk Inc. and Sanofi Aventis, and pharmacy benefit managers Express Scripts Inc., CaremarkPCS Health, Caremark Puerto Rico and OptumRx Inc., for having engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices that have illegally raised the price of insulin over the past decade to 1,200% of its original cost. They control most of the market in the United States and their effects are reflected in Puerto Rico.

In turn, the island will receive more than $2 billion through the announcement of the historic agreement by which Johnson & Johnson, as well as distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson, must make a disbursement of $26 billion nationwide. The companies agreed to settle thousands of lawsuits filed by state and local governments in the mainland United States and Puerto Rico, whose residents were affected by pharmaceutical companies, distributors and companies involved in the opioid epidemic.

In addition to financial compensation, several bans were imposed in order to stop the aformentioned companies from the practices that led to the public health emergency, and distributors were required to implement corrective measures.

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