Judge doubles damages in drug pricing case
A U.S. judge has ordered pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. to pay double damages in a case over false mark ups of U.S. drug prices through 2003, according to the Associated Press. U.S. District Judge Patti Saris, who sits in Massachusetts District Court, found that the companies had acted willfully, and ordered AstraZeneca to pay more than $12.9 million in total damages, while Bristol-Myers was ordered to pay $695,594. Plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit said the drug makers boosted published average wholesale prices, which until 2003 were the basis for reimbursements from Medicare, state governments and private insurers. In an earlier ruling in June, Saris found that the two companies and Schering Plough Corp. subsidiary Warrick Pharmaceuticals grossly inflated the prices of drugs, including chemotherapy agents, to the detriment of the U.S. government''s Medicare program for the elderly, insurance companies and individuals.