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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2003
Medication Users Face Sept. 23 Deadline to File Reimbursement Claims


OLYMPIA - Washington patients who took the heart and blood-pressure medication Cardizem CD or its generic equivalents between 1998-2003 must file claims by Sept. 23 in order to be eligible for reimbursements under a proposed nationwide antitrust settlement with two drug manufacturers.

About $434,000 could go to an estimated 15,000 Washington residents as the result of a proposed settlement announced last year between the two drug makers and all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

Washington's share is part of a $21 million fund created to reimburse patients who paid more than they should have for Cardizem CD, which is used to treat chest pain, high blood pressure and heart disease. The total settlement amount of $80 million will be used to reimburse not only consumers, but also state agencies and insurance companies that were overcharged for the drug.

The states alleged that Aventis, maker of Cardizem CD, conspired with another company, Andrx, to keep a cheaper generic form of the drug off the market. In return, Andrx received payments of about $90 million.

"These companies sought to enrich themselves at the expense of consumers whose continued health depended on taking this drug," Attorney General Christine Gregoire said. "By filing for reimbursement, thousands of heart patients will now be able to recover money they never should have had to pay in the first place."

In agreeing to settle antitrust claims with the states, the two companies denied any wrongdoing.

The proposed settlement in the case is still under court review. Affected consumers who do not wish to participate must exclude themselves in writing by Sept. 22 or be bound by the rulings of the court in the case.

A nationwide effort to contact consumers who bought Cardizem CD or its generic equivalents between Jan. 1, 1998 and Jan. 29, 2003 is now under way. Additional information about the settlement, including how to file a claim, can be found at http://www.cardizemsettlement.com or by calling 1-800-372-2406.


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