Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced completion of a proposed $36 million nationwide settlement for consumers, state purchasers, and other end payors with drug maker Organon USA Inc. and its parent company Akzo Nobel N.V. over the antidepressant drug, Remeron. Oregon joined Texas and Florida as lead states. A multi-state complaint and preliminary settlement papers were filed in New Jersey federal court.
"If the court approves this settlement, a substantial number of Oregon consumers will receive financial relief from monies paid by Organon," Myers said. The settlement was reached following a ten-month state investigation by the three states, which were later joined by 47 other states and U.S. territories. The settlement resolves claims brought by state attorneys general, as well as a private class action brought on behalf of a class of end payors.
Attorney General Myers added, "The defendants in this case abused the regulatory scheme to stifle competition and prevent consumers from having access to low-cost, generic equivalents of this drug. This lawsuit represented a way for us to help lower prescription drug costs for consumers."
The states' complaint alleged that Organon unlawfully extended its monopoly by improperly listing a new "combination therapy" patent with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In addition, the complaint alleged that Organon delayed listing the patent with the FDA in another effort to delay the availability of lower-cost generic substitutes. This resulted in higher prices to those who paid for the drug. With annual sales in excess of $400 million at its peak, Remeron is Organon's top-selling drug.
Organon also has agreed to strong injunctive relief that will require the company to make timely listing of patents and prohibits Organon from submitting false or misleading listing information to the FDA.
Oregonians will be among consumers nationwide, who can submit claims for reimbursement. If the court approves the settlement, the Attorneys General will implement a claims administration process for consumers, who purchased Remeron or its generic equivalent between June 15, 2001 and the present. Part of Oregon's effort to notify consumers of possible refunds will include asking pharmacists and psychiatrists for notification assistance. Recovery also will benefit third-party payors such as employer benefit managers and insurance companies.
Oregon also will be among states receiving monies for damages incurred by certain governmental entities that purchased Remeron or its generic equivalent.
Oregonians wanting consumer protection information may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org