PRICE-FIXING: Judge Dismisses Suit Against Drugmakers
The decision by four large drugmakers to stick out a class-action price-fixing suit filed by thousands of independent and chain pharmacies paid off yesterday, when a federal judge dismissed the case for a lack of evidence. The Wall Street Journal reports that Johnson & Johnson, Norvartis AG, Monsanto Co. and Forest Laboratories Inc. "had refused several opportunities over the past few years to join other major drugmakers" who settled the charges for approximately $700 million. In his ruling that the drugmakers did not conspire to institute a dual pricing system that charged managed care pharmacies far less than retail pharmacies, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kocoras wrote: "The evidence of conspiracy is meager, and the evidence as to individual defendants paltry or nonexistent" (Tanouye/Langreth, 12/1). The Chicago Tribune reports that the "unexpected decision," which came even before the drug companies mounted their defense before the jury, was based in large part on the poor performance of the pharmacies' expert witness, Nobel laureate Robert Lucas of the University of Chicago (Japsen, 12/1). Kocoras wrote that Lucas' "essential opinions were not only not based on the evidence, they were inconsistent with it. His ignorance of material facts and evidence was profound" (Journal, 12/1). The Tribune reports that the "pharmacies are ... expected to appeal Kocoras' ruling to an appellate panel" (12/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.