Banner: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler
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For Immediate Release
March 7, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

SETTLEMENT OF PRESCRIPTION DRUG
ANTITRUST SUIT ANNOUNCED
Consumer Refunds Could Reach $200-$300

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today a final settlement in the federal antitrust suit brought against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Watson Pharma, Inc. and Danbury Pharmacal, Inc. This suit involved the widely prescribed, anti-anxiety drug BuSpar. Maryland, which prosecuted the suit along with 34 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, alleged that Bristol and the other defendants took steps in violation of the antitrust laws which prevented generic BuSpar from coming to market. Maryland is filing papers with the Court today seeking Preliminary Approval of the Settlement.

"The cost of prescription drugs is a major concern for millions of people–especially the elderly," Attorney General Curran said. "This settlement sends a strong message that law enforcement will not tolerate anti-competitive practices in the marketplace and that consumers are fed up with the unfairly high cost of prescription drugs"

As a result of the settlement, following preliminary approval by the Court, a nationwide consumer fund will be established and administered by the plaintiff states. As currently contemplated, monies contributed by the plaintiff states for this fund will be supplemented by monies provided by the private end-payor class. The consumer fund will provide recompense to consumers for the entire damages period allowed by the Court (effectively, January 1, 1998 through January 31, 2003). Upon providing proof of their buspirone purchases during the notice period, consumers should receive full financial compensation for their damages. Because BuSpar is a maintenance drug, this likely will result in payments of $200-$300 for many consumers. Consumers may seek information about the settlement by calling (800) 678-9587 or on line at www.busparsettlement.com

Maryland will also receive compensation for damages suffered by state and local agencies as a result of the alleged anti-competitive conduct. While the ultimate allocation among the litigating states has not yet been determined, it is contemplated that more than $50 million will be set aside to be divided among the various plaintiff states’ agencies.

The settlement agreement also contains strong injunctive relief, which will prevent Bristol from engaging in the future in the type of conduct alleged in the complaint. Bristol is prevented from attempting to re-list the patent at issue in the Orange Book. Bristol is further prevented from attempting to list certain other types of patents in the Orange Book, if they would unreasonably delay generic entry. Additionally, Bristol is barred from making false statements or misrepresentations to the FDA. Finally, Bristol 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.

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

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