Cancer patients who purchased Taxol® or its generic equivalent Paclitaxel from 1999-2003 to benefit from $12.5 million reimbursement fund
(DES MOINES) Attorney General Tom Miller said today that cancer patients who purchased Taxol or its generic equivalent Paclitaxel may be eligible to receive significant reimbursement for alleged illegal overcharges by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. Taxol is a chemotherapy drug used in treatment of ovarian, breast and other cancers.
Consumers who were treated with the drug at any time from January 1, 1999, through February 28, 2003, may file a claim for a cash recovery if they paid all or some part of the costs out of pocket for the drug treatment.
Claims must be postmarked by November 14, 2003 [UPDATE: The judge EXTENDED THE DEADLINE to February 29, 2004.] Claim forms and complete information can be obtained by calling 1-800-659-7609.
Consumers nationwide will be notified about the reimbursement program through advertising and partnerships with cancer support and education organizations. The court-approved consumer notification program was launched by state attorney general offices.
A multi-state lawsuit alleged that manufacturer Bristol-Myers Squibb used fraudulent means to delay the entry of lower-priced generic versions of Taxol, thereby illegally inflating the cost of chemotherapy for thousands of patients. The states have brought similar action in other cases.
"Drug prices usually drop significantly when generic drugs become available," Miller said. "We strongly encourage cancer patients treated with Taxol or its equivalent to look into filing a claim," he said.
"When companies thwart generic drugs, it harms both consumers and taxpayers, who often pay for prescription drugs subsidized or paid-for by government programs," Miller said.
The reimbursement program is part of an approximately $62.5 million settlement of the antitrust suit brought by the attorneys general of all 50 states, the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
The states estimated that as many as 400,000 cancer patients could be affected by the case. The settlement provides approximately $12.5 million to reimburse them (or their legal representative if a Taxol/paclitaxel user died) some portion of what they paid for the drug, or to reimburse insured patients for out-of-pocket costs not paid for by insurers. Individual consumers could see claims in the range of $400 to $2,600.
Taxol® is Bristol-Myers Squibb's brand name for the cancer drug paclitaxel (also marketed as Onxol®), which is used primarily to treat breast and ovarian cancers, along with certain lung cancers and Kaposi's Sarcoma.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women, with more than 211,000 new diagnoses each year. Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer among women, with more than 25,000 new cases each year.
Affected consumers who do not wish to participate in the proposed settlement must exclude themselves in writing by October 1, 2003, or they will be bound by the rulings of the court in this case. More information can be found by calling 1-800-659-7609.
Other similar cases: Miller said the Taxol reimbursement program is similar to others launched recently by the states. In June, the states announced the claim process for users of "BuSpar," an anti-anxiety drug. The claim-filing deadline on BuSpar is October 10. The claim administrator's toll-free number is 1-800-678-9587. Miller said the States will be calling attention to other claims cases in the near future. Information on all the claim procedures is available from www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov.