Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that the filing period for claims against the maker of the cancer-fighting drug Taxol has been extended until January 31, 2004. The extension from an earlier deadline of November 14, 2003 was granted by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In November, the same court granted final approval of the settlement which included a $55 million cash component. The settlement resolves an antitrust lawsuit brought by Oregon, the other 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Territories and Commonwealths against Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. The government lawsuit alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb used fraudulent means to delay the entry of lower-priced generic versions of Taxol into the marketplace, thereby illegally inflating the cost of chemotherapy for thousands of Oregon patients.
"We sought the extension because the claim rate for reimbursement has been lower than expected despite advertisements being placed in scores of national publications such as TV Guide and Parade Magazine," Myers explained. "The settlement is a significant victory for the State of Oregon and we are taking these extra steps to make sure victims receive the restitution due them."
Attorney General Myers added that part of the problem for consumers is that Taxol is used to fight advanced breast, ovarian, lung and AIDS-related cancers. "Unfortunately, some Oregonians treated with Taxol or paclitaxel during the claims period may now be deceased. It is important that the public understands that the claims do not end when the patient who was overcharged dies and that representatives can file on behalf of estates," Myers said.
"I urge all estate executors to look into whether the estate they are administering is eligible," said Myers. In addition to the advertisements, Myers, this week, sent personal letters to nearly 100 Oregon oncologists asking for their assistance in locating patients that might be eligible for restitution.
According to the Oregon State Department of Human Services Cancer Registry, between 1996 through 2000, an average of 2,600 cases of breast cancer were reported among women in Oregon and an average of 500 Oregon women died of breast cancer. The Registry also reported an average of 145 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed and an average of 42 women died from it.
Oregon residents, who were treated with the cancer drug Taxol®, or its generic version, paclitaxel between January 1, 1999 through February 28, 2003 and who paid all or a part of the costs of drug treatment out-of-pocket are eligible to submit a claim.
Payments will be based on each consumer's individual case. Individuals could receive funds in the range of $400 to $2,600.
For more information about the claims process, visit the Attorney General's website at www.doj.state.or.us or www.taxolsettlement.com. Consumers also may call the Taxol® Settlement Administrator at 1-800-659-7609.
The Attorney General's hotline may be reached by calling (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org