Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wisconsin Collects From Schering-Plough/Warrick; Vows To "Fight On" With New Merck

Warrick Pharmaceuticals, a former Schering-Plough acquisition target, and current subsidiary of the renamed Schering-Plough (oddly enough, now called "Merck") -- has been accused by many states of overcharging state payers for albuterol. Massachusetts is among them (background post), seeking around $250 million -- now pending a damages order from the federal trial-level court in Boston. [Albuterol was sold under the brand name Proventil® by Warrick and Schering-Plough. it has long since gone generic.]

The more general tenor of each state's allegations (some 35 in total) is that Warrick, and then later Schering-Plough, published ficticious selling prices for the drug, so as to boost the level at which the state governments would reimburse the companies for providing the drug to patients participating in the Medicare/Medicaid (and similar state-based) systems.

Yesterday, the State governement of Wisconsin, historically pne of the smaller states for Warrick (by amount of revenue), settled with Schering-Plough and Warrick, but decided to continue litigating with New Merck (presumably on other drug pricing fraud claims). Here is a bit, from Drugs.com; do go read it all:

. . . .On Monday, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced a settlement in which Merck & Co., Schering Corp. and Warrick Pharmaceuticals Corp. agreed to pay $3.7 million in restitution and $550,000 in costs and fees.

The two companies were bought by Merck. The state's lawsuit against Merck is still in litigation. . . .

Do stay tuned -- as we will report the outcome of the ongoing Wisconsin governmental litigation against Merck.


Anonymous said...

Albuterol and other metered dose inhalers used for asthma and other respiratory disorders had to be reformulated a few years ago to remove fluorocarbon propellants and are no longer generic. Ventolin is now Ventolin HFA. Albuterol solution for nebulizers is generic and quite cheap.

condor said...

I hear you Anon., Proventil is still a high priced branded drug, but I guess the sense I am trying to convey is that Medicare/Medicaid "tiered" reimbursement schedules have largely supplanted the branded with a generic version (on cost) -- despite the environmental improvement on the propellants.

I do appreciate the point, but there are fewer and fewer non-private-pay or non-Cadillac insurance plan participants being fully-reimbursed for legacy Schering-Plough/Warrick's Proventil -- thus the migration to the generic albuterol makers.

That's all.

Namaste -- thanks, and do stop back by.

Anonymous said...

I guess I didn't make myself clear. There are three albuterol HFA MDIs available: Ventolin, Proventil, and ProAir. One can no longer buy an albuterol MDI, nor can one buy Maxair Autohaler. The former because of the new and "improved" HFA versions, for which the manufacturers feel compelled to charge outrageous prices and the latter because the manufacturer apparently decided not to go the HFA route.