Judge reduces fine in AstraZeneca case

6/20/2008

MONTGOMERY, Ala. A state judge in Alabama has upheld the fraud verdict that the state won against AstraZeneca in a Medicaid drug pricing suit, but rules that the punitive dames were too high, according to the Associated Press.

Circuit Judge Charles Price ruled that state law limits punitive damages to three times compensatory damages and cut the amount down from $175 million to $120 million, this is in addition to the $40 million in compensatory damages the state will receive.

The original verdict came back in February in the first trial of lawsuits filed by the state against more than 70 drug companies. Novartis and SmithKline Beecham are currently on trial in Montgomery.

In his eight-page ruling, Price said the evidence during the trial showed that AstraZeneca’s actions in overcharging Alabama’s Medicaid program were “reprehensible.”

“The state introduced evidence to establish that the defendants fraudulently diverted Medicaid funds intended to benefit the state’s poor, elderly and infirm citizens,” Price wrote. “The state established that defendants’ wrongful conduct deprived the state of limited funds available for the state’s Medicaid recipients.”

AstraZeneca spokeswoman Laura Woodin said the company would appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court.

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