FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marsha Kramarck
Deputy Attorney General
Phone: (302) 577-5180
Date: June 4, 2002
States Sue Maker of Breast Cancer Drug
Suit Filed To Protect Patients, State Dollars
(Wilmington, DE): Attorney General Jane Brady today joined 29 other states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, in filing an antitrust lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb, Inc. The suit charges that the pharmaceutical manufacturer monopolized the market to maximize profits from the sale of the cancer-fighting drug, Taxol®. The multi-state action accuses Bristol-Myers Squibb of acting illegally to keep the cheaper, generic version of Taxol® off the market. As a result, cancer patients and others were forced to pay significantly higher prices for the life-saving drug.
Attorney General Brady said: "This action is important to Delaware, not only because the actions of the manufacturer illegally kept prices artificially high, but because Delaware has the unfortunate distinction of leading the nation in cancer diagnoses. Taxol® is the primary drug prescribed for most malignant tumors. Conduct which takes advantage of consumers in their weakest moments is unconscionable."
Paclitaxel, the pharmaceutical ingredient in Taxol® was initially discovered by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and was developed and tested by the NCI at taxpayer expense.
Today’s lawsuit alleges that Bristol-Myers Squibb knowingly manipulated the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office process by fraudulently securing patents that had no legal validity. In both 1990 and 1993, Bristol-Myers Squibb represented to Congress that this drug was not patentable. On making its application to the Patent Office in 1998, Bristol-Myers Squibb failed to disclose these earlier admissions, and further misrepresented that dosage factors, that had been previously demonstrated in its research to be ineffective, created a "new" aspect subject to patent. By deceiving the Patent Office, Bristol-Myers Squibb obtained patents to which it was not entitled. These actions prevented generic drug manufacturers from entering the marketplace until the year 2000.
A standard course of treatment using the name brand drug can cost from $6,000 to $10,000 per patient. As a result of this exclusive access to the market, hospitals, cancer patients, and states were forced to pay nearly a third more for Taxol® treatments.
Bristol-Myers Squibb's sales of Taxol®, including the 30 month period from 1998-2000, totaled an estimated $5.4 billion. Much of this income resulted directly from the monopoly the company enjoyed based on the fraudulent statements made in the request for new patents. In the last several years, pharmaceutical prices have skyrocketed. Recently, a number of the Attorneys General, including Attorney General Brady, joined together to form a Pharmaceutical Pricing Task Force that will seek to monitor a broad range of issues regarding pharmaceutical pricing.
Today’s action was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The suit seeks injunctive relief and monetary damages.