Friday, October 1, 2010

More Of The "Hassan Hangover": Schering Shoulda' Settled Dept.

If you saw the movie The Hangover, last year -- you have some idea what it must feel like to be Dick Clark, Ken Frazier and Bruce Kuhlik, this morning -- "We did what(?), back in November of 2009? We bought what?" ["Musta' been the Ruffies!" -- clip at bottom.]

Even if the readership didn't see that utterly forgettable movie, they will recognize this as another Hassan-era Hangover item. True enough, Schering-Plough settled some of these cases ($44.5 million), in some states (another $55 million) in 2009 -- so, why didn't it settle with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, back then? [Only Fast Fred, and Tom Terrific can say.]

Now, in that jursidiction alone, Merck faces some multiple of $4.6 million for overcharging the government on albuterol. Yep -- shoulda' settled.

Per The Wall Street Journal, overnight:

. . . .A federal jury in Massachusetts ruled that a former Schering-Plough unit caused the commonwealth to overpay local pharmacists for prescriptions of albuterol, used to treat symptoms of lung disease, hitting current Schering-Plough owner Merck with $4.6 million in damages. . . .

The unit, Warrick Pharmaceuticals, ceased operations in 2008 and Merck bought Schering-Plough nearly a year ago. . . .

The calculation of the punitive damages has been deferred for a bit by the trial judge -- often leaving a window of opportunity to settle (for some figure above $4.6 million) -- and be done. I'd take the opportunity, were I Bruce Kuhlik, the GC at Whitehouse Station. This is one hangover worth ending, as Warrick Pharma (the original distributor of albuterol, owned by legacy Schering-Plough) hasn't even existed for two years now.

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