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Consumer News Release

For immediate release -- Monday, July 2, 2001.
Contact: Bob Brammer at 515-281-6699

Iowa Joins Antitrust Suit Alleging Prescription Drug Maker Illegally Blocked Generic Version of Popular Blood Pressure Medication

Twenty-seven states including Iowa have joined in an antitrust lawsuit today alleging that two major pharmaceutical companies illegally conspired to keep off the market a generic form of the popular heart medication called "Cardizem CD."

The suit alleges that the Hoechst pharmaceutical company, the maker of Cardizem CD, paid Andrx Corp. about $90 million to keep a lower-priced generic version of Cardizem off the market for about a year beginning in 1998. Cardizem CD is considered a highly effective medication for high blood pressure, chest pains and heart disease. Defendants in the suit are Andrx and French-based Aventis SA, which acquired Hoechst last year.

The suit says the states are seeking relief "for a series of anti-competitive acts by which defendants sought to delay or prevent the marketing of less expensive, generic alternatives to Cardizem CD, a highly profitable, brand-name drug."

The States are asking the court to order restitution for consumers and taxpayer-financed programs like Medicaid. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

"We are very concerned about any anti-competitive conduct that drives up the cost of prescription drugs for senior citizens or anyone else." Miller said. "In addition to being a financial burden, it's a health issue. Some people stop taking needed medications when prices go too high."

State Attorneys General have estimated that a million Americans take Cardizem CD or its generic versions. Generic versions now are sold at about half the price of Cardizem CD, which now costs about $65 per month for a typical dosage. "It is damaging to citizens and taxpayers when people have to pay more for an expensive brand-name drug when a lower-priced generic should be available as an alternative," Miller said.

Twenty-seven states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have joined in the suit: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CT, DC, HI, ID, IN, IA, KS, ME, MI, MN, NV, NM, NY, NC, ND, OK, PR, RI, SC, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY. The NY and MI State Attorneys General Offices are serving as lead counsel for the states.

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