August 04, 2020

Maine shares in $80M suit against two drug makers

Attorney General Steven Rowe announced Tuesday a proposed settlement for $80 million involving the popular heart medication Cardizem CD.

The 50-state settlement resolves an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Maine attorney general and multiple other state attorneys general against Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc., Andrx Corp. and affiliated entities, according to a press release.

Maine’s precise share of the settlement has not yet been determined, but it will be shared by consumers, state agencies, and insurance companies that paid higher prices for Cardizem CD or its generic equivalent between 1998 and January 2003, said the release. Aventis and Andrx previously paid $110 million to settle a case brought by drug wholesalers involving the same allegations.

Maine’s lawsuit alleged that Aventis and Andrx illegally agreed that Andrx would stay off the market with a less expensive generic version of the drug Cardizem CD in return for Aventis paying Andrx nearly $90 million. The lawsuit alleged that delays in bringing the generic drug to market resulted in higher prices for purchasers of the drugs.

“Maine’s antitrust laws prohibit agreements between competitors that limit consumer choice and drive up prices. We believe the Cardizem deal did just that,” said Assistant Attorney General John Brautigam, who handled the case for the state.

“This case is a warning to big drug manufacturers that we will scrutinize questionable business practices that drive up prices for consumers. We will fight for affordable access to prescription drugs in any court for as long as it takes,” said Rowe.

The proposed settlement was filed yesterday with U.S. Federal District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds in Detroit and requires approval from the court to become effective.

If Judge Edmunds approves the settlement, Rowe will implement a claims administration process this summer for consumers who purchased Cardizem CD or its generic equivalent at any time between January 1998 and January 2003, according to the release.

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