CURRAN ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT IN DRUG
Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., in conjunction with attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, announced today that U.S. District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan has preliminarily approved a $100 million national settlement of an antitrust lawsuit with pharmaceutical giant Mylan Laboratories, with approximately $1.5 million earmarked for Maryland and its consumers.
The lawsuit, originally filed by a coalition of 33 state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission, accused Mylan and others in 1998 of orchestrating an illegal price increase of more than 2,000 percent for the generic drugs lorazepam and clorazepate, both used to treat Alzheimer's disease and anxiety. This spike in pharmaceutical prices helped lead to a 0.2 percent increase in the May 1998 national Producer Price Index, which the federal government uses to monitor national economic health.
Under terms of the settlement, $72 million will be made available for distribution to individual consumers injured by the price increases. Consumers who purchased lorazepam or clorazepate from Jan. 1, 1998 through Dec. 31, 1999, and were not reimbursed by any type of insurance, may be entitled to make a claim for a refund check for a portion of their purchases. In Maryland, it is estimated that consumers were overcharged approximately $1 million, all of which consumers are expected to be able to recover.
"Our top priority in this settlement was making sure that overcharged Maryland consumers are reimbursed," Attorney General Curran said. "This settlement returns funds not only to those consumers harmed by these illegal pricing practices, but also to the state's Medicaid program as well as to other state agencies."
Other defendants in the lawsuit and settlement include New Jersey-based Cambrex Corporation and its wholly owned subsidiary, Profarmaco S.r.l., an Italian pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturer, New York-based drug distributor Gyma Laboratories of America Inc., and New Jersey-based SST Corporation.
Also, in an effort to restore a competitive balance to the pharmaceutical market, Judge Hogan approved an injunction under which Mylan has agreed to certain restrictions in its future supplier agreements.
The consumer claims period will begin on June 1, 2001, and will run for 120 days, until Sept. 29, 2001. Maryland consumers who submit valid claims will receive refund checks after the Court grants final approval to the settlement, which may occur as early as January 2002. Consumers can obtain claim forms and more detailed information about the settlement and their legal rights by calling toll free at 1-800-899-5806, or accessing the Internet at www.agsettlement.com.