For immediate release - Tuesday, January 28, 2003.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.
Drug Companies to Pay $80 Million in Heart-Medication Antitrust Case
DES MOINES. Attorney
General Tom Miller said today that Iowa consumers will be eligible to
make refund claims in an antitrust case that alleged two major pharmaceutical
companies illegally conspired to keep off the market a less-expensive
generic form of the popular heart medication called "Cardizem CD."
Miller said Aventis Pharmaceuticals and the Andrx Corp. together will pay $80
million to compensate consumers, state agencies and insurance companies
that overpaid for the drug. He said he expects a claims process will be
approved by the court and implemented in late spring or summer.
The States' lawsuit alleged that Hoechst (a pharmaceutical company later acquired
by Aventis) illegally paid Andrx about $90 million so that Andrx would
not bring a generic version of Cardizem CD to market for about a year.
Cardizem CD is a widely-used blood pressure medication.
"Generic drugs usually are cheaper," Miller said. "We alleged that delaying
the generic version resulted in higher prices for consumers, medical insurance
companies, and government agencies who help pay for prescription drugs."
The two companies did not admit wrongdoing.
The proposed settlement between the states and the companies must be approved
by U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds in Detroit. The claims process
will be for consumers who bought Cardizem CD or its generic equivalent
between January 1998 and today. State Attorneys General have estimated
that a million Americans take Cardizem CD or its generic versions.
Jerry Karbeling, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the Iowa Pharmacy
Association and owner of Big Creek Pharmacy in Polk City, said Iowa pharmacists
will help consumers gather information that might be needed when the claims
process begins. "We look forward to helping Iowans get the information
they need to file a claim," he said.
Miller said the Pharmacy Association and pharmacists all over Iowa played a
key role in Iowa consumers being paid over $1.2 million last summer in
a separate case alleging an illegal drug monopolization scheme. "Pharmacists
did a superb job helping people get the right data," Miller said.
The proposed Aventis/Andrx/states settlement follows another settlement
reached in early January between states and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Bristol-Myers
agreed to pay a total of $155 million to a group of states that alleged
the company illegally delayed generic versions of two of the company's
lucrative drugs from coming to market, thus forcing consumers, businesses,
and taxpayers to pay higher prices for the drugs.
"Prescription drugs are a huge business -- and one of the largest expenses
for consumers and taxpayers," Miller said. "Companies need to act fairly
and lawfully. That protects consumers and taxpayers and makes a level
playing field for all businesses."
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