Oregon Department of Justice

Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum

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Multi-State Settlement against Knoll Pharmaceutical Company and BASF

July 29, 1999

Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that Knoll Pharmaceutical Company of New Jersey and BASF Corporation of Delaware will pay the State of Oregon approximately $883,000 as part of a $41.8 million multi-state settlement filed today in Marion County Circuit Court. The Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, which admits no law violation, results from Knoll's marketing of Synthroid®, one of the most widely used synthetic thyroid hormone products on the market.

"Misleading marketing practices in the health care industry should be of great concern to us all," Myers said. "We all depend on the integrity and accuracy of those in the pharmaceutical industry to assist health professionals in prescribing safe and affordable drugs."

More than eight million patients in the United States take a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement drug, Synthroid®, manufactured and sold by Knoll, is the dominant and often most expensive brand of synthetic thyroid product on the market.

Following a joint investigation by Oregon and 36 other states, the Attorneys General alleged that, in promoting the use of Synthroid®, Knoll violated various state consumer protection laws. Specifically, the Attorneys General alleged that Knoll attempted to prevent the publication of a study that showed Synthroid® and some similar generic products are equally effective. Knoll claimed that Synthroid® was a reference product or the standard for synthetic thyroid products, that it was unique or superior to competing brands, and that no other competing brand of the product was equivalent to or useful in place of Synthroid®. These representations were alleged by the Attorneys General to be false.

The agreement requires that Knoll not make false or misleading claims regarding Synthroid® or any other synthetic thyroid product.

In announcing the settlement, Myers and the other Attorneys General emphasized that the safety and effectiveness of Synthroid®, or any other synthetic thyroid hormone replacement product, was not an issue in this case and that individuals currently taking these products should not stop taking them. Myers further cautioned product users to discuss any concerns with health care professionals.

Although not a part of the Assurance, Knoll has reportedly reached tentative settlement of a number of class actions that allege consumers suffered monetary damages as a result of Knoll's conduct in the sale of Synthroid®. If approved by the courts, individual consumers who purchased Synthroid® between January 1, 1990 and the court date, may be eligible for restitution through the class settlements.

Oregon's share of the settlement money will be used to reimburse the state for monetary losses and to help fund future consumer protection education programs.

Oregonians requiring information about the consumer class actions may call 1-800-853-4853. Information also is available through a web site www.synthroidclaims.com and the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 or (503) 229-5576 (Portland only), 8:30 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday, and the Department of Justice web site www.doj.state.or.us.

Contact:

Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) jan.margosian@doj.state.or.us |
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