Home News Local news V.I. TO SHARE IN DRUG COMPANY SETTLEMENT

V.I. TO SHARE IN DRUG COMPANY SETTLEMENT

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Jan. 10, 2003 – The territory stands to get a portion of a $55 million antitrust suit involving a cancer-treatment drug that was tentatively settled Tuesday by 38 states, Washington, D.C., and three territories by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Attorney General Iver Stridiron said Friday in a release.
Stridiron could not be reached for further comment.
The suit filed on June 4, 2002, charged that Bristol-Myers Squibb manipulated and monopolized the retail market to maximize profits from the sale of the cancer-fighting drug Taxol. This hurt cancer sufferers as well as generic manufacturers. ths suit alleged.
The settlement is contingent on the parties reaching agreement on other settlement terms including injunctive relief, Stridiron said in the release. Those terms are under discussion, he said.
In 1992, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the pharmaceutical company five years of exclusive marketing rights for Taxol. Scientists at the National Cancer Institute, a federal agency, initially discovered the pharmaceutical agent used in the drug, Paclitaxel, and taxpayer dollars paid for its development and testing.
The suit alleged that in 1992, Bristol-Myers Squibb officials told a congressional committee that Paclitaxel could not be patented and that companies would soon want to manufacture the drug on a generic basis.
The suit charged that Bristol-Myers Squibb, despite its earlier admission before Congress, fraudulently secured patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office that allowed the company to keep generic drug manufacturers out of the market and prevented potential competition until 2000. As a result, the suit said, cancer patients, hospital and government health agencies, as well as states and territories, were forced to pay nearly a third more for Taxol treatments.
Using Taxol, a standard course of treatment typically runs between $6,000 and $10,000.
Bristol-Myers Squibb officials said in a corporate news release that they stand behind their actions and believe they were lawful. However, the release said, the company decided that it would be prudent to enter into settlements so as to end the uncertainty and risk of the litigation.

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