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BOSTON —� Plaintiffs’ lawyers are hoping a Massachusetts federal judge’s ruling ordering AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. to pay additional damages in the Massachusetts portion of a case involving inflated average wholesale prices of pharmaceutical drugs reimbursed by Medicare bodes well for its nationwide case. In a Nov. 1 ruling, Judge Patti B. Saris doubled damages under Massachusetts consumer protection law against the two companies for knowingly and willfully publishing false average wholesale prices that harmed the third-party payers in Massachusetts who reimburse Medicare beneficiaries for their 20% co-insurance payments. In re: Pharmaceutical Industry Average Wholesale Price Litigation, M.D.L. No. 1456, No. 01-12257 (D. Mass) “[The defendants] knew that Medicare beneficiaries, and thus their insurers, were locked by statute into paying twenty-percent of grossly inflated phony AWPs, which bore no relation to any average of wholesale prices in the marketplace,” Saris wrote. Saris also awarded damages on behalf of Massachusetts third-party payers and consumers outside the Medicare regime who made co-insurance payments, and non-insured consumers who paid drug prices based on average wholesale prices. Saris’ ruling builds on a June ruling that awarded damages to class two plaintiffs prior to the ruling on the Massachusetts consumer protection law. This month, Saris awarded total damages of more than $12.9 million against AstraZeneca and about $389,000 against Bristol-Myers. The classes’ claims include payments made from December 1997 to December 2003. Saris also ordered plaintiffs’ lawyers to file a motion to certify national classes of non-Massachusetts residents. The ruling is a major victory, said Thomas Sobol, a lawyer in the Boston office of Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro who represented the plaintiffs. “This is one of the longest running pharmaceutical pricing battles in the court,” Sobol said. “We look forward to bringing this on a nationwide scale as well.” Both companies said they plan to appeal the ruling. Bristol-Myers is not responsible for the average wholesale price benchmark used by private insurers and Medicare and the company’s pricing, sales and marketing practices were fair and reasonable, said spokesman Tony Plohoros “The company maintains this position and will appeal this decision,” Plohoros said. In a statement, AstraZeneca said the company has competed responsibly and legally in its drug pricing and marketing practices. “The conduct at issue [in the case] was the result of highly competitive conditions in the pharmaceutical marketplace, which led to discounting,” AstraZeneca said.

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