Brown Settles Lawsuit Against Major Drug Prescription Company

Thursday, February 14, 2008
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

SAN DIEGO--California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a multi-million dollar settlement with Caremark, resolving allegations that the prescription management company tricked doctors into switching
patients to different brand name drugs in exchange for “secret rebates from drug manufacturers.”

“Caremark received secret rebates from drug manufacturers in exchange for convincing doctors to switch patients to different brand name drugs,” Attorney General Brown said. “Under today’s settlement, the company must disclose the payments it receives for recommending certain drugs.”

Caremark provides prescription drug services to approximately 2,000 health care plans nationwide. California alleged that Caremark engaged in deceptive business practices by convincing doctors to switch patients to different brand name drugs in exchange for secret rebates from pharmaceutical companies.

Health plans were financially harmed by these practices and some patients were forced to pay higher co-payments for the new drugs that they received. Under today’s settlement, Caremark must reimburse patients for any out-of-pocket expenses related to drug changes and inform patients if switching drugs will increase co-payments.

Caremark must also inform physicians of the company’s financial incentives for making certain recommendations and must inform physicians if sales presentations are funded by pharmaceutical manufacturers. Caremark is barred from promoting a drug switch if the new drug exceeds the cost of the originally prescribed medication.

Under today’s settlement, Caremark will pay $38.5 million to 29 states for costs of litigation and programs to benefit patients. $22 million of this amount is a cy pres payment which will fund a prescription medication program for low income, disabled or elderly consumers and a program to educate consumers about important differences between similar medications. Caremark will pay up to an additional $2.5 million in reimbursements to patients who paid extra because they were switched from one cholesterol-controlling drug to another.

California will receive approximately $3.4 million for charitable organizations that provide elderly and low income people with free prescription medications.

Maryland and Illinois led the investigation into Caremark’s drug switching practices. Twenty-eight other states participating in today’s settlement include: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

In 2006, Caremark’s net revenues were $36.8 billion, making it one of the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit management companies. Caremark also administers mail order pharmacies, which sold 516 million prescriptions to patients in 2006.

The complaint and the agreement are available at www.ag.ca.gov/newsalerts

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PDF icon Complaint657.4 KB
PDF icon Settlement Agreement2.68 MB