State to get nearly $7 million in settlement with drug company


Seattle Times

Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to pay the Washington state nearly $7 million to settle allegations of illegal marketing and pricing of prescription medications.
By Susan Gilmore

Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to pay the Washington state nearly $7 million to settle allegations of illegal marketing and pricing of prescription medications.

Washington is one of 43 states involved in the $389 million settlement, which compensate state’s Medicaid programs, which were overcharged for prescription medications.
The settlement reimburses the federal government and states for excessive amounts paid by Medicaid contracts.

According to the state Attorney General’s office, the settlement stems from allegations that Bristol-Meyer, and its former subsidiary, Apothecon, engaged in several improper marketing and pricing practices, including:

• Reporting inflated prices for prescription drugs knowing that Medicaid and other federal health care programs would used these prices to pay for Bristol-Meyers products.

• Paying illegal fees to physicians and other health care providers and pharmacies to induce the purchase of Bristol Meyer products.

• Promoting the sale and use of Abilify, an antipsychotic drug for pediatric patients and for the treatment of dementia-related psychosis, for which uses the federal Food and Drug Administration had not approved.

• Misreporting the sale price for the antidepressant Serzone, resulting in the improper reduction of rebates paid to state Medicaid programs.

The settlement was the second major one with Bristol-Meyers Squibb in the past five years.

In 2003, the state was part of a $55 million national settlement reached in a lawsuit against Bristol-Meyers. It compensated Washington cancer patients who paid too much for chemotherapy drugs.

The antitrust suit alleged the drug manufacturer fraudently obtained patents on cancer drug Taxol that delayed the availability of lower-priced generic versions. As a result, thousands of cancer patients, including as many as 3,000 in Washington, were overcharged.

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