OKLAHOMA consumers due $1 million

Friday, July 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma consumers will soon be collecting refunds totaling up to $1 million as part of a national settlement against pharmaceutical giant Mylan Laboratories.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson made the announcement Thursday afternoon at a pharmacy near Baptist Hospital in northwest Oklahoma City.

The $1 million is Oklahoma's share of restitution Mylan has agreed to pay consumers as part of a settlement to a lawsuit brought by 33 states and the Federal Trade Commission.

Edmondson said the case involved price fixing of prescription drugs lorazepam and clorazepate, generic drugs generally prescribed to treat Alzheimer's disease and stress-related illnesses.

The settlement is valued at $100 million nationally and restitution is being made in all 50 states.

In Oklahoma, consumers can make claims for up to 70 percent of their out-of-pocket expenses for the two drugs between January, 1998, and December, 1999.

Edmondson said Mylan was accused of orchestrating ``illegal price increases'' for the two drugs in violation of federal and state antitrust laws.

Actions of the company caused prices to skyrocket, in some cases more than 2,000 percent, he said.

``We've found one Oklahoma woman whose 120-tablet prescription jumped in price from $15.11 to $99.91 because of this illegal scheme,'' Edmondson said.

He said he found it ``particularly offensive'' that the drug was intended to treat vulnerable Alzheimer's patients.

An assistant attorney general said Mylan settled earlier with insurance companies, so Oklahoma's $1 million share of the national settlement will go to consumers.

Mylan reached the settlement with state and federal governments earlier this year.

Edmondson said that in addition to the $1 million, state agencies will get $352,000 as reimbursement for overcharges on payments on behalf of welfare clients and others receiving state assistance.

He urged consumers to apply for refunds by contacting an independent settlement administrator at 1-800-899-5806 or www.agsettlement.com. The deadline for filing a claim is Sept. 29, 2001.