|June 4, 2002
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
|en Español||Print Version||Tweet|
Attorney General Bob Butterworth today charged Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. with artificially inflating the cost of a cancer fighting drug by unlawfully monopolizing its manufacture and sale.
A civil complaint was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C., by Butterworth and his counterparts in 28 other states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The complaint seeks civil penalties and triple the amount of damages to consumers.
In 1992, the Food and Drug Administration gave Bristol-Myers five years of exclusive marketing rights for TaxolŽ. Paclitaxel, the actual pharmaceutical ingredient in TaxolŽ was initially discovered by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and was developed and tested by the NCI at taxpayer expense. Paclitaxel is used in the treatment of ovarian, breast and a variety of other cancers. In 1993, the company told a congressional committee that paclitaxel was not patentable, and that "near-term generic competition for TaxolŽ is a certainty."
The complaint charges that Bristol-Myers knowingly manipulated the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office process by fraudulently securing patents that had no legal validity. These actions prevented generic drug manufacturers from entering the marketplace until 2000. As a result, hospitals, cancer patients and states were forced to pay nearly a third more for TaxolŽ treatments.
"Health care costs are already rising at an alarming rate. Keeping less expensive generic drugs off the market longer than necessary only adds to that already serious problem," Butterworth said. "We cannot tolerate any unlawful attempt to delay the availability of lower cost drugs, especially those that are crucial in combating cancer and other life-threatening diseases."
Butterworth said Bristol-Myers' sales of TaxolŽ have totaled at least $5.4 billion since 1998. A standard course of treatment using the name brand drug can cost from $6,000 to $10,000 per patient.
States filing the complaint along with Florida include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
The complaint was handled for Florida by Antitrust Chief Trish Conners and Assistant Attorneys General Nicholas Weilhammer and Craig Farringer with assistance from Government Analyst Laura Daugherty.