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For Immediate Release
July 15, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

CURRAN GIVES $44,000 TO PRO BONO COUNSELING PROJECT

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced today that he has awarded a grant of $44,000 to the Pro Bono Counseling Project, which links uninsured and low-income people in need of mental health care with licensed mental health professionals at no cost.

The grant money comes from a 2002 settlement of a lawsuit alleging a price-fixing scheme which resulted in price increases of over 2000 percent for two anti-anxiety drugs. The complaints (filed in 1998 by 33 states and the Federal Trade Commission) alleged that Mylan Laboratories, Inc. entered into exclusive contracts with all the suppliers of essential chemicals used in manufacturing lorazepam and clorazepate, thereby preventing other manufacturers of generic drugs from competing with it. The supply of the much more expensive branded drugs, Ativan and Tranxene, were not affected.

In 2002, the federal district court approved a $100 million national settlement. Last May, Maryland consumers received a total of $1,004,255 in amounts ranging from $200 to $2,000; state agencies received $445,255; and the Office of the Attorney General returned over $300,000 in costs and attorneys’ fees to the General Fund. Although the Office was able to reimburse over 30 percent of eligible consumers, an unprecedented percentage, the consumer restitution fund had nearly $500,000 remaining for cy presdistribution in Maryland.

The $44,000 grant presented to the Pro Bono Counseling Project will be used to fund the "Living with Cancer" program, which assists people in all phases in the progression of the illness from diagnosis, through death and dying, grief and loss, and post-treatment adjustment to life expectations. This program includes two training workshops annually and peer supervision groups for therapists.

"This grant will allow us to expand staff time to extend the program’s reach to serve cancer patients and their families referred from hospitals, oncology and surgical centers and even primary care practices," Executive Director Barbara K. Anderson said.

"I am happy that we are able to turn over ill-gotten gains from unlawful activities to organizations like the Pro Bono Counseling Project," Attorney General Curran said. "I am excited by their plans for using the money and hope that together we can make a difference in the lives of many people in our state."

Currently, more than 800 clinicians throughout Maryland actively participate in the Pro Bono Counseling Project and, last year, donated in excess of 3,000 hours of therapy for more than 700 clients. The Pro Bono Counseling Project maintains an active caseload of approximately 200 cases.

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