PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marsha Kramarck
Phone: (302) 577-5180
Date: March 7, 2003
PRELIMINARY SETTLEMENT IN BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB ANTI-TRUST SUIT ANNOUNCED
(Wilmington, DE): Attorney General Jane Brady announced that Documents seeking Final Approval of the federal antitrust suit brought against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Watson Pharma, Inc. and Danbury Pharmacal, Inc. will be filed with the Federal District Court for the southern district of New York today.
This suit involved the widely prescribed anti-anxiety drug, BuSpar. Delaware prosecuted the suit along with 34 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, alleging that Bristol and the other defendants took steps in violation of the antitrust laws to prevent a generic version of BuSpar from coming to market. The lawsuit claims that Bristol paid competitors to not market their generic versions of BuSpar, and that Bristol made fraudulent patent claims in order to extend the period of time it had exclusive access to the market. BuSpar, the brand name of the generic drug buspirone hydrochloride, is widely prescribed to treat anxiety and depression.
Attorney General Brady said: “The cost of prescription drugs is of concern to all of us. Unlawfully keeping generic drugs from the market causes the price to stay high, costing patients more for the medication they need, and should not be tolerated.”
Following final Court approval, a nationwide consumer fund will be established and administered by the Plaintiff States. As currently contemplated, monies will be set aside by both the Plaintiff States and by private classes for this fund. The consumer fund will compensate consumers for the entire damages period allowed by the Court, January, 1998 through December, 2002. Upon providing proof of their buspirone purchases during the notice period, consumers are entitled to receive full financial compensation for their damages. Because BuSpar is a maintenance drug, this could result in payments of $200-$300 for many consumers.
Consumers can make claims for refunds by calling 800-678-9587 or by visiting the official settlement website at www.busparsettlement.com.
In addition, Delaware is entitled to receive a separate sum as a result of the proposed settlement in compensation for damages suffered by state and local agencies from the alleged anti-competitive conduct. The specific dollar allocation among the litigating states has not yet been determined. More than $50 million will be set aside to be divided among the various Plaintiff state and local agencies.
The settlement agreement also contains strong prohibitions against any future attempts by Bristol to engage in similar unlawful conduct. Bristol is prevented from attempting to re-list the patent for BuSpar if it will delay generic entry, and from making false statements to the FDA. Finally, Bristol is forbidden to enter into agreements with generic drug manufacturers to settle patent infringement suits, if the result of such an agreement would adversely affect competition. The injunction has a 10-year term. The proposed injunction was negotiated in coordination with the Federal Trade Commission.