Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the settlement of the December 2001 federal antitrust lawsuit brought against Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS), Watson Pharma, Inc. and Danbury Pharmacal, Inc. This suit involved the widely-prescribed, anti-anxiety drug buspirone (BuSpar). Oregon, which prosecuted the suit along with 34 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, alleged that Bristol and the other defendants took steps in violation of the antitrust laws which prevented generic BuSpar from coming to market. The group is filing papers today with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York seeking final approval of the settlement.
"Oregonians, especially our elderly residents, are tremendously vulnerable to the unlawful actions of pharmaceutical companies," Myers said. "As a result of the unconscionable behavior in the marketing of the widely prescribed anti-anxiety drug BuSpar, consumers paid higher prices at a time when every penny was counted twice."
Upon approval by the Court, the settlement will establish a nationwide consumer fund that will be administered by the state Attorneys General. Consumers with proof of BuSpar purchases should be compensated for the entire damages period (January 1, 1998 through December 31, 2002). Because BuSpar is a maintenance drug, this likely will result in payments of $200-$300 for many consumers. Settlement information is available to consumers by calling (800) 678-9587 or online at www.busparsettlement.com.
Oregon will receive substantial monies as a result of the proposed settlement as compensation for damages suffered by state agencies as a result of the alleged anti-competitive conduct. While the ultimate allocation has not yet been determined, it is contemplated that more than $50 million will be set aside to be divided among the various participating states. Upon court approval, the Oregon Medical Assistance Program (OMAP) is expected to receive more than $1 million and the Oregon Department of Corrections will be awarded approximately $50,000.
The settlement agreement will prevent BMS from any future engagement in the type of conduct alleged in the complaint. Bristol is prevented from re-listing the patent at issue or other patent types if it would unreasonably delay generic entry. Additionally, Bristol is barred from making false statements or misrepresentations to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Finally, BMS is forbidden to enter into agreements with generic drug manufacturers to settle patent infringement suits, if the result of such an agreement would potentially adversely affect competition. The 10-year-term proposed injunction was negotiated in coordination with the FTC that took the lead in the negotiations.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org