Last week, Kansas Attorney General Steve Six announced that his state, along with 24 others and the District of Columbia, had reached a $22.5 million settlement in an antitrust suit involving Abbott Laboratories and Fournier Industrie et Sante and Laboratories Fournier, the makers of the cholesterol drug TriCor.
But the settlement is good news for a state so strapped for cash that every little bit helps. Kansas will receive about $200,000 in damage, fees, and costs, while the Kansas Medicaid program will be reimbursed for overcharges it paid for Tricor.
Not surprisingly, there's an Abbott connection to our biggest medical-industry-cash-funded senator.
First, for context: The states argued that Abbott and Fournier had blocked
generic drugs from competing with Tricor, which is a big moneymaker for
Abbott -- it reportedly accounted for more than $1 billion of
Abbott's sales last year. It's a good thing we have attorneys general to do this kind of
work for us, because the pharmas' sneaky tactics are a little hard
The states alleged the companies made various clinically
insignificant changes in the dosage and form of Tricor, abandoned the
promotion of and removed older versions of TriCor from the market, and
manipulated the drug codes used to facilitate generic substitution. The
states also alleged that Abbott and Fournier engaged in sham litigation
regarding patents they knew were invalid, unenforceable, or inequitably
obtained for the purpose of preventing or delaying generic competition.
Due to Abbott and Fournier's alleged conduct, state and local entities
had to pay higher prices for TriCor because their conduct blocked the
lower-priced therapeutically equivalent generic versions of TriCor from
entering the market.
After a year of following the politically and financially corrupted debate over health-care reform, we've learned to check for medical-industry campaign contributions whenever we see the name of a medical-industry giant
connected to anything that makes life harder for average people.
his last campaign alone, the healthcare-industry cash king
banked $10,000 from the Abbott Laboratories Employees Political Action
Committtee. He banked another $3,000 from Abbott in 2001 and 2002,
according to the Federal Election Commission.
(Sadly for the locals, Abbott hasn't been nearly so generous to
lawmakers who toil in Topeka. But it still found $5,500 in pocket change to toss to
candidates for the Kansas House and Senate since the late 1990s).
Roberts, a Republican, sits on the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and, no surprise, opposes the current health-care reform bill.
I'm not saying Roberts' votes are bought-and-sold. Just saying
that's the way we do business in this country: Attorneys general have
to file lawsuits to make antitrust violators behave, while senators
cash their checks.