DES MOINES. More than $116,000 in checks were issued this week to 221 Iowa cancer patients and their families. Almost all the Iowa recipients are receiving $525 under settlement of a multi-state antitrust case. Iowa and other states alleged Bristol-Myers Squibb illegally delayed lower-priced generic alternative versions of "Taxol" from entering the market from 1999-2003.
"This gets money back to consumers we alleged had to pay several hundred dollars more than was necessary for treatments," said Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller.
"Drug prices usually drop significantly when generic alternatives become available," Miller said. "This is one of several cases in which we alleged companies thwarted generic drugs and thus harmed consumers and taxpayers."
Nationally, 12,723 consumers are receiving a total of $7,242,114 in the "Taxol" case. The share to 221 Iowans or their families is $116,814. Taxol is a chemotherapy drug used in treatment of ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and other cancers.
The states alleged that Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. illegally thwarted entry into the market of lower-priced generic alternatives to Taxol. Taxol originally was developed and tested under the National Cancer Institute's direction at public expense until 1992. Then Bristol-Myers had five years of marketing exclusivity. The states allege the company fraudulently obtained patents for methods of administering the drug that resulted in unlawful maintenance of monopoly and delay of generic alternatives entering the market after 1997. Taxol's efficacy made it a major source of revenue for Bristol-Myers, with annual sales exceeding $1 billion by 1998.
The settlement agreement also contains strong injunctive relief for ten years to prevent Bristol-Myers from engaging in anti-competitive conduct in the future.
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