For Immediate Release
UTAH WILL SHARE IN $55 MILLION CANCER DRUG SETTLEMENT
Utah's antitrust attorneys scored a major court victory today by resolving a case that will compensate cancer patients, reimburse the state and protect consumers from unfair drug prices. Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced that Utah will receive part of the $55 million settlement from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company to resolve an antitrust lawsuit involving the cancer-fighting drug Taxol.
Utah and 49 other states sued the drug manufacturer for allegedly blocking the entry of less expensive generic drugs into the marketplace. Taxol is used to treat breast, ovarian and other cancers. The cost for a dose of Taxol is approximately $1,625, while the generic equivalent costs $1,200.
The ultimate allocation under the settlement hasn't been determined but Utah and the other states will distribute $37 million to compensate governmental entities that paid higher prices for Taxol. Approximately $12 million will be set aside to compensate consumers who personally paid for Taxol. Bristol-Myers Squibb also agreed to distribute 13,000 dosages to low-income patients.
"Utah cancer patients are justifiably getting their money back. They paid too much and for the wrong reasons," says Shurtleff. "It's important that the state is also being reimbursed because Utah taxpayers helped subsidize the excessive price of Taxol."
Bristol-Myers Squibb will be under court supervision for the next ten years to prevent any anti-competitive conduct in the future.
The settlement was filed today with U.S. Federal District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in the District of Columbia and requires approval from the court to become effective. If approved, a claims process will be set up for consumers who purchased Taxol or its generic equivalent between January 1, 1999 and February 28, 2003.
"The amount of money involved in this settlement should send a stern warning that companies can't bend the rules to make a bigger profit," says Wayne Klein, the assistant attorney general representing Utah in the negotiations.
Last March Bristol-Myers Squibb also agreed to pay more than $500 million to resolve claims that it illegally inflated profits for the anti-anxiety medication BuSpar.