Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Consumer group sues 8 drugmakers, alleging their coupons for copays are illegal, raise costs - The Washington Post

TRENTON, N.J. — Eight drugmakers are being sued by a consumer advocacy group that alleges their programs offering coupons that lower the cost of copayments for brand-name medicines are illegal.

Community Catalyst alleges that the couponing programs violate federal bribery laws because they’re meant to conceal information about the payments from health insurance plans.

Such coupons generally reduce patient copayments for brand-name drugs to what they would pay for a generic drug. The group says that drives up health insurance premiums and can cause patients to reach benefit caps quicker.

The companies sued are Abbott Laboratories, Amgen Inc., AstraZeneca PLC, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., GlaxoSmithKline PLC, Merck & Co. Inc., Novartis AG and Pfizer Inc. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Identical lawsuits, but with different defendants, were being filed Wednesday in federal courts in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Newark, N.J.

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