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BOSTON – Eleven pharmaceutical companies recently settled a class action in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts concerning their alleged inflation of prescription drug wholesale prices for $125 million. In the litigation, consumers and insurance companies accused the companies of fraudulently inflating published average wholesale drug prices. Those wholesale prices led to higher consumer and insurance company payments for branded and generic drugs used to treat serious illnesses like cancer and HIV. In re: Pharmaceutical Industry Average Wholesale Price Litigation, M.D.L. No. 1456, No. 01-12257 (D. Mass). Under the terms of the settlement, 82.5% of the settlement fund is earmarked for third-party payors’ or insurance company claims and 17.5% for consumer claims. Although the battle isn’t over, every settlement signifies that the plaintiffs’ claims are just and that these drug companies “have many years of damage to repay to drug purchasers,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, which was co-lead counsel in the case. The companies that settled on March 7 include: Abbott Laboratories; Amgen Inc.; Hoechst Marion Roussel; Baxter Healthcare Corp.; Baxter International Inc.; Bayer Corp.; Dey Inc.; Fujisawa Healthcare Inc.; Fujisawa USA Inc.; Immunex Corp.; Pharmacia Corp.; Pharmacia & Upjohn; Sanofi-Aventis; Sicor Inc.; Gensia Inc.; Gensia Sicor Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc.; and ZLB Behring. Amgen, Bayer and Sanofi-Aventis spokespeople said the settlement was an effort to resolve protracted litigation. “The agreement, which is subject to approval by the companies and the federal court in Boston, does not reflect any admission of liability,” said Bayer spokesman Bryan Iams. “The Companies, including Bayer, maintain that their conduct was lawful and appropriate and that they are settling the litigation to end what has been protracted and costly litigation.” Claims involving insurance companies and consumers outside of Massachusetts continue against AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. AstraZeneca spokeswoman Laura Woodin said it “competed responsibly” concerning drug pricing and marketing. “This lawsuit’s claims are without merit, and AstraZeneca plans to appeal,” Woodin said. Bristol-Myers spokeswoman Laura Hortas said the company declined to comment. Previously in the case, GlaxoSmithKline settled claims against it for $70 million in August of 2006 and AstraZeneca settled claims brought by Medicare Part B Zoladex users for $24 million in May. In November, following a trial, the court ordered AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers to pay close to $14 million to insurance companies and consumers in Massachusetts.

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