Drug Company Settlement in Boston: This News Is No News.

Most people who know me, know that as a Massachusetts product liability lawyer, I have a natural mistrust for big business. I’ve seen too many examples of their disregard for consumers’ safety and related interests, whether dealing with insurance companies, big banks, auto manufacturers or drug manufacturers. If anyone doubts that, take a look at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s work.

Today’s post reveals yet another chapter in how “Big Pharma” so often puts the bottom line first, and consumer interests, a distant second. To wit: Recent news that eleven drug manufacturers have agreed to a preliminary settlement in the United States District Court in Boston, within a lawsuit that alleged the companies artificially inflated the wholesale prices of approximately 200 separate drugs. The effect of this artificial price-spiking was (you guessed it) to increase the co-payments and full payments that consumers (as well as others) paid. The preliminary settlement amounts to almost $21.8 million dollars, which would be distributed to eligible consumers who paid either increased prescription drug co-payments, or full price for the prescription, from January 1, 1991 to March 1, 2008. Qualifying claimants would receive a minimum of $35 dollars back. The reason that the average payment to each claimant is so low, is that over 17 years, there are millions of persons who could qualify for the settlement distribution.

As part of standard practice within such settlements, the defendant companies denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to settle the claims “to resolve the litigation and avoid any further expenses and inconveniences” in continuing to contest the charges. (You can smirk now.) When will industries like “Big Pharma”, insurance companies, banks and others, be satisfied to make hundreds of millions in profits, without cheating the American consumer in the process? One may as well ask when will the sun stop rising in the east.