SEATTLE -- More than 1,150 Washington consumers who were overcharged for the anti-anxiety drug BuSpar began receiving restitution payments today, Attorney General Christine Gregoire announced.
Washington claimants will receive a full refund of their overcharges based upon their BuSpar purchases. Payments will average $800 per claimant, with payments to Washington consumers totaling about $938,000. State agencies, including Medicaid, will receive $2.1 million.
"By illegally keeping a generic drug off the market, Bristol-Myers Squibb padded its bottom line at the expense of consumers," said Gregoire. "Since consumers paid four times the generic price, it is only right they get full restitution."
The payments result from a March, 2003 settlement by Washington and 37 other states with Bristol-Myers Squibb, the manufacturer of BuSpar. The states accused the company of illegally trying to keep a less-expensive generic version of the drug off the market. Experts estimated that the wholesale price of BuSpar went from $62.48 per 100-tablet supply to $16.67 after the generic entered the market. Bristol-Myers Squibb allegedly made false statements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to obtain a new patent that granted the company an extension of its exclusive and lucrative hold on the market.
Aside from the monetary award in the settlement, Bristol-Myers Squibb also agreed to:
- Take no further actions relating to patents covering the drug;
- Not provide false or misleading information to U.S. patent officials or the FDA;
- Notify state and federal officials when it applies for a new patent or acquires an existing patent for other drugs from another party; and
- Not apply for certain other patents if they would unreasonably delay the entry to generic competitors onto the market.