SEATTLE – Washington residents who paid high prices for a popular heart medication will share nearly $403,000 in refunds from an antitrust case settlement, Attorney General Rob McKenna announced today. The state began mailing checks today to 1,127 consumers.
The payments are the result of a nationwide settlement with two drug companies that made a pact to delay the availability of a generic equivalent of Cardizem CD. Cardizem CD is used to treat chest pain, high blood pressure and heart disease.
“Thousands of patients whose lives depended on Cardizem CD were manipulated into paying more than they should for the medicine,” McKenna said. “This was not a case of a company trying to earn a reasonable profit for a new product. It was a deliberate and illegal maneuver by two drug manufacturers who sought to enrich themselves at the expense of vulnerable consumers.”
Washington was among 27 states and several private plaintiff groups that sued Aventis and Andrx. The states alleged that Aventis, maker of Cardizem CD, paid Andrx nearly $90 million to keep a cheaper generic form of the drug off the market. As a result, consumers, medical insurance companies and the government had to purchase the higher-priced, brand-name version of the drug for a year.
The defendants settled in 2002 but the case remained in limbo while a third-party appealed. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the final appeal and a trial judge approved the reimbursements.
Aventis and Andrx will pay a total of $80 million.
The settlement will benefit more than 76,000 consumers throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico who bought Cardizem CD between January 1998 and January 2003. Those consumers, who were represented by the states, will share a total of $24 million.
In addition, $4.5 million will be distributed among the states to reimburse certain government purchasers, including Medicaid.
Washington agencies, including the Washington State Procurement Office, Department of Social and Health Services, Washington Health Care Authority, University of Washington Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center, will receive nearly $126,500.
The states will also receive $2.5 million as reimbursement for legal fees and other costs connected with the lawsuit; Washington’s share is $150,000.
The remaining $49 million will be paid to consumers represented in private class actions.
The deadline to submit reimbursement claims was November 2003. Fewer Washington residents submitted claims than initially predicted, but individual payments exceeded earlier estimates. Refund amounts will vary depending on consumer purchases.
For more information contact:
Kristin Alexander, Public Information Officer, (206) 464-6432
Brady Johnson, Assistant Attorney General, (206) 389-2848