Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release -- Friday, March 7, 2003.

Contact Bob Brammer -- 515-281-6699.

States Ask Court to Approve "BuSpar" Antitrust Settlement

Consumer refunds expected to be about $200-300 for many consumers.
Web site and toll-free number established for consumer information.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and other states filed formal settlement documents Friday in an antitrust suit brought against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Watson Pharma, Inc. and Danbury Pharmacal, Inc. The suit involved Bristol-Myers' widely prescribed drug called "BuSpar," a medication for treating patients suffering from generalized anxiety disorder.

Iowa is among 35 states (plus DC and PR) that alleged Bristol-Myers and the other defendants violated antitrust laws in action they took to prevent a generic version of BuSpar from coming to market. The states are filing papers with the Federal District Court in New York today seeking preliminary approval of the settlement.

"Drug prices usually drop significantly when generic drugs become available," Miller said. "Thwarting generic drugs illegally harms both consumers and taxpayers, who often pay for prescription drugs subsidized or paid-for by government progams."

If the Court approves the settlement as anticipated, a nationwide consumer fund will be established and administered by the Plaintiff States. The consumer fund will provide compensation to consumers for damages during the period from January 1, 1998, through January 31, 2003. States said refunds likely will amount to payments of $200-$300 for many consumers.

Miller said a detailed notice and claims process will begin after the Court gives preliminary approval to the settlement. He said consumers already can register to receive more information about the claim process when it is established in the weeks ahead. The web site is www.busparsettlement.com, and the toll-free telephone number is 1-800-678-9587.

Consumers will need to provide proof of BuSpar purchases during the notice period. Miller said Iowa pharmacists have been instrumental in assisting consumers with such information for prior prescription drug case claims programs. "Iowa pharmacists have helped their patients recover hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said.

He said his office will work hard to alert consumers about the claims process when it is established.

Miller said the State of Iowa also will receive significant monies under the proposed settlement as compensation for damages suffered by public agencies as a result of the alleged anti-competitive conduct. The allocation among the states has not been determined, but it is contemplated that more than $50 million will be set aside to be divided among the various Plaintiff States' agencies.

The States alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb engaged in fraud to unlawfully maintain its monopoly and exclusive hold on the market for BuSpar. States alleged the company made false statements to the Food & Drug Administration about its patents in an effort to stop competitors from selling cheaper generic alternatives and unlawfully maintain its monopoly.

The settlement agreement also contains strong injunctive relief to prevent the alleged illegal activity by Bristol-Myers named in the complaint, including taking illegal action to delay entry of generic drugs and making false statements or misrepresentations to the FDA. The company also is forbidden to enter into agreements with generic drug manufacturers to settle patent infringement suits, if the result of such an agreement would potentially adversely affect competition. The injunction has a 10 year term. The proposed injunction was negotiated in coordination with the FTC, with the FTC taking the lead in the negotiations.

Texas, Maryland, and New York led a group totaling 35 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, in the BuSpar litigation.

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