SEATTLE -- Millions of dollars are still available to consumers who used the cancer drug Taxol or its generic equivalent, paclitaxel from January 1, 1999 through February 28, 2003.
While $12.5 million was awarded nationally to consumers who paid too much for the drug, only a handful have filed claims to get their money. In Washington, the state Attorney General's Office reports 125 people have filed claims since March, 2003. There are an estimated 3,000 consumers here eligible to receive money.
In March, 2003, The Attorney General's Office settled a lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb, the manufacturer of Taxol. "It's unfortunate that a drug company would take advantage of people who depend on these products," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "Now it's our job to make sure those consumers get the money they are due."
State investigators discovered Bristol-Myers Squibb grossly overcharged consumers for the drug. Cancer patients would have received Taxol during chemotherapy treatments. It costs as much as $1,700 a dose. It is widely used to battle breast, ovarian, lung and other cancers. A standard course of treatment can cost from $6,000 to $10,000 per patient.
Those who paid for the entire cost of Taxol treatments are eligible to receive up to $438 for each documented infusion. Those who paid some out-of-pocket expenses in addition to their insurance are also eligible for one maximum payment of up to $525. In addition, the settlement provides a certain quantity of free Taxol for patients without financial resources or insurance.
The deadline for filing claims has been extended to January 31, 2004. Consumers can submit claims by contacting the Taxol settlement administrator at 1-800-659-7609 or visit the Taxol website at www.taxolsettlement.com.