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Health Care Economics
Courtrooms Are PAL’s Arena
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 8 page 13-13

Community Catalyst, a Boston-based health advocacy group, formed the Prescription Access Litigation (PAL) project in April 2001, with the aim of making prescription drugs affordable for consumers by undertaking class-action litigation.

Community Catalyst’s Communications Director Laurie Covens told Psychiatric News that PAL originally focused on efforts by pharmaceutical companies to "artificially maintain" monopolies on specific drugs by locking generic competitors out of the market.

PAL filed a federal antitrust class-action lawsuit against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., alleging that the company had filed false secondary patents to prevent other drug manufacturers from bringing a generic version of its drug BuSpar to the market and also filed suit in state courts, with the support of five statewide consumer organizations. In May 2002, the 35-million-member AARP joined PAL in three lawsuits, including the BuSpar case.

Covens said a second phase of litigation focused on pharmaceutical companies’ marketing practices. In September 2001, for example, PAL filed a class-action suit against Abbott Laboratories concerning its drug Lupron, which is used to treat prostate cancer, alleging a "fraudulent marketing and sales scheme. . .to reap unlawful profits at the expense of Medicare patients."

Last month PAL and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees filed suit against four pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBMs), charging them with committing fraud by inflating the price of drugs (see story above). The case represents a "new direction" for PAL, said Covens, since it targets PBMs directly. PAL has filed 15 sets of lawsuits since its founding.

More information is posted on the Web at www.prescriptionaccesslitigation.org.

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