Consumers, Seniors File Suit Against Bristol-Myers Squibb; New Strategy Will Make Abusive Patent Listings More Costly

Apr 25, 2001, 01:00 ET from Gray Panthers

    WASHINGTON, April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The Stop Patient Abuse Now (SPAN)
 Coalition today announced that the Gray Panthers filed a class action lawsuit
 against Bristol-Myers Squibb for damages the company caused by delaying
 competition for BuSpar brand buspirone, an anti-anxiety drug.
     The suit is part of SPAN's new strategy to stop abusive practices by drug
 companies that prevent competition.  SPAN engaged Washington, DC-based Cohen,
 Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll to file the suit in the same court that ruled last
 month against Bristol's actions.   The firm also filed suits against Bristol
 on behalf of HIP Health Plan of Florida, Inc., and Richard Levine, a buspirone
 user in Florida.
     "Consumers are tired of waiting for Congress," stated Tim Fuller, SPAN
 founder and Executive Director of the Gray Panthers.  "We're taking matters
 into our own hands now, and we're not stopping until we get reform."
     A federal district court last month ordered Bristol to remove a patent
 from the FDA "Orange Book," which groups argued was intended to unlawfully
 block sales of lower-priced generic buspirone.  SPAN petitioned the FTC and
 several state Attorneys General to investigate Bristol's actions.
     SPAN asked Michael Hausfeld of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll to lead
 the case against Bristol because of his reputation for using high-profile
 litigation to force industry reforms.  The firm has led successful class
 action suits against Texaco (race discrimination), Exxon (Valdez oil spill),
 and Bristol (infant formula price fixing).
     "Congress needs to slam the door shut on abusive drug patent extension
 schemes," stated Hausfeld.  "Until that happens, consumers will protect
 themselves in court."
     SPAN members, including consumer, seniors, and AIDS groups from across the
 nation, plan to join the Gray Panthers with additional suits.  Some of the
 groups filed an earlier suit in New York to seek injunctive relief, though
 after Bristol had already de-listed its patent as a result of an order by the
 DC court.  The Gray Panthers suit is the first ever by a consumer group to
 seek damages for unlawful drug company actions that block generic competition.
 SPAN estimates that Bristol's scheme cost consumers the opportunity to save
 over $100 million.
     "Bristol's actions were the last straw," stated Fuller.  "Every
 pharmaceutical company planning to use last-minute patents to delay
 competition should now think twice."
     Copies of the suit may be obtained by contacting Tim Fuller at
 202-637-7737.  See http://www.SPANCoalition.org for more information.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X52981615
 
 

SOURCE Gray Panthers
    WASHINGTON, April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The Stop Patient Abuse Now (SPAN)
 Coalition today announced that the Gray Panthers filed a class action lawsuit
 against Bristol-Myers Squibb for damages the company caused by delaying
 competition for BuSpar brand buspirone, an anti-anxiety drug.
     The suit is part of SPAN's new strategy to stop abusive practices by drug
 companies that prevent competition.  SPAN engaged Washington, DC-based Cohen,
 Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll to file the suit in the same court that ruled last
 month against Bristol's actions.   The firm also filed suits against Bristol
 on behalf of HIP Health Plan of Florida, Inc., and Richard Levine, a buspirone
 user in Florida.
     "Consumers are tired of waiting for Congress," stated Tim Fuller, SPAN
 founder and Executive Director of the Gray Panthers.  "We're taking matters
 into our own hands now, and we're not stopping until we get reform."
     A federal district court last month ordered Bristol to remove a patent
 from the FDA "Orange Book," which groups argued was intended to unlawfully
 block sales of lower-priced generic buspirone.  SPAN petitioned the FTC and
 several state Attorneys General to investigate Bristol's actions.
     SPAN asked Michael Hausfeld of Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll to lead
 the case against Bristol because of his reputation for using high-profile
 litigation to force industry reforms.  The firm has led successful class
 action suits against Texaco (race discrimination), Exxon (Valdez oil spill),
 and Bristol (infant formula price fixing).
     "Congress needs to slam the door shut on abusive drug patent extension
 schemes," stated Hausfeld.  "Until that happens, consumers will protect
 themselves in court."
     SPAN members, including consumer, seniors, and AIDS groups from across the
 nation, plan to join the Gray Panthers with additional suits.  Some of the
 groups filed an earlier suit in New York to seek injunctive relief, though
 after Bristol had already de-listed its patent as a result of an order by the
 DC court.  The Gray Panthers suit is the first ever by a consumer group to
 seek damages for unlawful drug company actions that block generic competition.
 SPAN estimates that Bristol's scheme cost consumers the opportunity to save
 over $100 million.
     "Bristol's actions were the last straw," stated Fuller.  "Every
 pharmaceutical company planning to use last-minute patents to delay
 competition should now think twice."
     Copies of the suit may be obtained by contacting Tim Fuller at
 202-637-7737.  See http://www.SPANCoalition.org for more information.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X52981615
 
 SOURCE  Gray Panthers