Lupron Class Action Lawsuit Settlement
Class action suits are exposing schemes that gouge consumers
By Patricia Barry - January 2005
A recent lawsuit settlement that will return millions of dollars to cancer patients who were illegally overcharged for the drug Lupron may signal a turning point in the battle for affordable prescription drugs.
The Lupron case was a milestone in exposing fraud. The drug is used mainly to treat prostate cancer in men but also endometriosis in women and premature puberty in children. It has long been covered by state Medicaid programs and also, as a doctor-administered drug, by Medicare.
This is why it was federal authorities who originally brought a whistle-blower lawsuit against the manufacturer, TAP Pharmaceuticals. It accused the company of bribing doctors to prescribe Lupron over its competitors by offering them free samples and discounted prices——and suggesting they could then charge Medicaid and Medicare the full reimbursement price and pocket the difference. In 2001 the company, pleading guilty, was required to pay $885 million to settle criminal and civil charges, the largest drug fraud settlement in history.
The case recovered money for the government, which pays 80 percent of Medicare’s cost of inpatient drugs. But it ignored Medicare patients who had paid the remaining 20 percent, health insurers who’d paid more and uninsured people who’d paid top dollar. Lupron can cost more than $1,000 a dose.
A class action suit was begun on behalf of consumers and private insurers. It took three years, but on Nov. 30 TAP Pharmaceuticals, while this time admitting no wrongdoing, agreed to pay a further $150 million to settle the case before trial. Of that, $40 million will go to individual patients who have incurred out-of-pocket costs for Lupron.
See full article at: aarp website