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For Immediate Release
October 21, 2004
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY GENERAL CURRAN ANNOUNCES REMERON SETTLEMENT FOR CONSUMERS

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. today announced completion of a proposed $36 million nationwide settlement for consumers, state purchasers, and other indirect purchasers with drug maker Organon USA Inc. and its parent company Akzo Nobel N.V. over the antidepressant drug, Remeron. A multi-state complaint and preliminary settlement papers were filed in New Jersey federal court today. Subject to court approval, Organon will pay monies that will bring financial relief to state agencies and thousands of consumers. A ten month state investigation led to this settlement, which was joined by every U.S. state and territory. The settlement resolves claims brought by state attorneys general, as well as a private class action brought on behalf of a class of indirect purchasers.

"Affordable drug costs for consumers is one of this office's highest priorities--that is why I established our drug-pricing website earlier this year, and that is why we pursued these defendants. Pharmaceutical companies that engage in what we contend is illegal conduct that results in higher cost prescription drugs for the State and for our citizens, will not be tolerated," said Curran.

The states’ complaint alleged that Organon misled the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the scope of a new "combination therapy" patent it had obtained in order to extend its monopoly. In addition, the complaint alleged that Organon delayed listing the patent with the FDA in another effort to deter the availability of lower-cost generic substitutes. This resulted in higher prices to those who paid for the drug. With annual sales in excess of $400 million at its peak, Remeron is Organon’s top-selling drug.

Organon has also agreed to strong injunctive relief that will require the company to make timely listing of patents and prohibits Organon from submitting false or misleading listing information to the FDA. Conduct undertaken by defendants that fails to comply with the terms of the States' Injunction could lead to contempt of court charges, regardless of whether the conduct was legal or illegal.

Maryland consumers will be among consumers nationwide who can submit claims for reimbursement. If the court approves the settlement, the Attorneys General will implement a claims administration process for consumers who purchased Remeron or its generic equivalent between June 15, 2001 and the present. Maryland will also receive monies for damages incurred by certain governmental entities that purchased Remeron or its generic equivalent.

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