The suit claims that the drug companies -- Abbot Laboratories Inc., Baxter International Inc., Dey L.P., Boehringer Ingelheim Roxane Inc. and Schering-Plough Corporation -- have intentionally overcharged South Carolina's two largest prescription drug health plans by more than $40 million since 1991. The lawsuit claims that the companies purposefully inflated the wholesale price charged to a patient's health plan by pharmacies.
"The drug companies are overcharging the taxpayers in South Carolina," says state Attorney General Henry McMaster. "The goal of this [lawsuit] is to bring that money back ... and also to restore public confidence in the stewardship of public funds."
South Carolina's Medicaid program -- intended for use by the state's elderly and poor citizens -- spent more than $300 million on prescription drugs from the five companies, and the State Health Plan spent more than $100 million to cover nearly 30 percent of South Carolina residents, McMaster says.
According to McMaster, about 20 other states have filed price-fixing lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, and either Schering-Plough or Warrick Pharmaceuticals -- a Schering-Plough subsidiary -- has been named in most of those lawsuits. Schering-Plough could not comment on the lawsuit.
Big Pharma critic Mike Adams, however, had this to say: "It's the same old price-fixing scheme that pharmaceutical companies have been using to bilk taxpayers in all fifty states. Amazingly, though, no state has yet been willing to prosecute these corrupt companies, and they're all settled out of court with no admission of wrongdoing."