Consumer News Release
For immediate release Wednesday, September 17, 2003.
Contact Bob Brammer 515-281-6699.
Miller Urges Iowans to File Claims in Prescription Drug Overcharge Cases
Consumers who paid for Cardizem CD, BuSpar, or Taxol likely are eligible -- but filing deadlines are approaching quickly.
Davenport. Attorney General Tom Miller today urged patients who purchased certain prescription drugs to obtain information and file claims for reimbursement for alleged overcharges by prescription drug companies.
The drugs are Cardizem CD and its generic equivalents, which are used to treat high blood pressure; BuSpar, used to treat patients with generalized anxiety disorder; and Taxol, especially used to treat breast and ovarian cancer.
"In each case, states joined forces and alleged the maker of the brand-name prescription drug took illegal action to block or slow down the appearance of generic alternatives," Miller said. "We alleged that the illegal action resulted in overcharges because generics almost always are cheaper."
"The courts have approved claim processes to get money back into the hands of consumers, but consumers need to check if they are eligible and contact their pharmacy for assistance," he said. "The deadlines for filing are approaching very soon now."
The deadline for filing claims is Sept. 23 for Cardizem CD, December 5 for BuSpar, and November 14 for Taxol.
"The first step is to go to the web site for the Claims Administrator in any of the cases, or call their toll-free number," Miller said. "Then most people will need to ask their pharmacy to help them with their prescription records for the last few years. Then they need to file the claim on time."
Jim Wallace of Davenport, Director of Pharmacy at Trinity Medical Center and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Iowa Pharmacy Association, joined Miller at the news conference at the Main At Locust Pharmacy in Davenport to encourage patients to check it out and file claims if they may be eligible. "The Pharmacy Association and pharmacists all over Iowa have given extraordinary service to their patients in these and other cases," Miller said. "They played a key role last year in over 3,600 Iowans being paid $1.26 million in the Mylan drug-monopolization case. We are very grateful for the cooperation of pharmacists on behalf of their patients."
The Courts have set aside about $75 million for payments to consumers in these three cases, Miller said. We are very eager to help patients take advantage of the claims processes.
Miller emphasized that consumers can find information on all three current cases at his offices web site www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org, or by calling the Attorney Generals Consumer Protection Division at 515-281-5926.
Cardizem CD claims (drug used to treat high blood pressure):
Filing deadline: September 23, 2003. [Filing period now CLOSED]
Purchase period for eligibility: 1/1/98 through 1/29/03.
Drugs involved: Cardizem CD or generic equivalents Cartia XT, Diltiazem CD, or Diltiazem Hydrochloride Extended Release Capsules.
Information and claim forms-
Mail: Cardizem CD Settlement Administrator, PO Box 1675,
Faribault MN 55021-1675
BuSpar claims (medication for patients suffering from generalized anxiety disorder):
Filing deadline: December 5, 2003.
Purchase period for eligibility: 1/1/98 through 2/28/03.
Drugs involved: BuSpar or generic equivalent Buspirone Hcl
Information and claim forms-
Mail: BuSpar Litigation Administrator, PO Box 1682, Faribault MN 55021-1682.
Taxol claims (drug used to treat especially breast cancer and ovarian cancer):
Filing deadline: November 14, 2003.
Purchase period for eligibility: 1/1/99 through 2/28/03.
Drugs involved: Taxol or its generic equivalent Paclitaxel.
Information and claim forms-
Mail: Taxol Settlement Administrator, PO Box 1667, Faribault MN 55021-1667.
Background on Cardizem CD and other Drug Refund Cases Now Pending:
Previous release on Cardizem.
Previous release on BuSpar.
Previous release on Taxol.
Cardizem CD and its equivalents are widely-prescribed, Miller said. I strongly encourage Iowans to obtain information and a claim form and submit it by the Sept. 23 deadline if they used the drug. We estimate there may be about 10,000 Iowa users of the drug, since there are about a million nationwide. If you arent sure if you use Cardizem CD, ask your doctor or pharmacist, and ask your pharmacist to help you with your usage and payment record.
In each of the refund cases the claim and payment processes have been approved by Federal District Court judges overseeing the matters (Michigan, New York, and Washington, DC, respectively, for Cardizem, BuSPar, and Taxol.) The Courts will have to approve the final distribution plans after close of the filing periods.
In each case, the States claims administrator also has done a vigorous notification program, including ads in many national publications such as Better Homes & Gardens, Readers Digest, Parade, National Geographic, Womans Day, and others.
The Antitrust Cases:
Cardizem CD: Miller said Aventis Pharmaceuticals and the Andrx Corp. together are paying to compensate consumers, state agencies and insurance companies that overpaid for Cardizem CD or its generic equivalents. The multi-statelawsuit 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.
BuSpar: Miller said 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. Drug costs usually drop significantly when generic drugs come on the market. According to a report from the Congressional Budget Office in 1998, the average generic prescription price can be less than half of the brand name price.
Taxol: The multi-state lawsuit alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb used fraudulent means to delay the entry of lower-priced versions of Taxol, thereby illegally inflating the cost of chemotherapy for thousands of patients.
In each case, Miller said the Courts also have imposed strong injunctive relief to prevent the alleged illegal activity by the drug manufacturers.
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.