Attorney General Lockyer Announces Antitrust Lawsuit Against Major Drug Makers for Restricting Consumer Access to Popular Generic Heart Medication

Monday, May 14, 2001
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced today the filing of a $100 million multi-state antitrust lawsuit against two major drug makers, Aventis Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Andrx Corp., for allegedly conspiring to keep a popular generic heart medicine off the market.

The lawsuit filed today in federal court in Michigan by 16 states and the District of Columbia alleges that Hoechst, a pharmaceutical company acquired by Aventis last year, paid Andrx nearly $100 million beginning in July 1998 to keep a generic version of the heart drug Cardizem CD from consumers. Cardizem CD accounted for more than $700 million in sales for Hoechst. It was estimated that the generic heart drug costs half the $65 per month price of Cardizem CD for a typical dosage used.

"The price difference means elderly Californians using the drug paid about $400 more a year because the pharmaceutical companies conspired to keep less expensive generics from the market," Lockyer said. "This has a definite impact for Californians on fixed incomes. By filing the antitrust lawsuit, we are going after the conspiracy of greed and seeking refunds for consumers and government programs such as Medi-Cal who were forced to pay for the more expensive name-brand drug."

The antitrust lawsuit was filed by Michigan, California, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The states also will be filing a "friend of the court" brief in support of a private lawsuit in which a federal court ruled in June 2000 that Hoechst and Andrx violated antitrust laws. The pharmaceutical companies are appealing the court decision.

# # #