Ala. SC consolidates two of King's AWP lawsuits

John O'Brien Oct. 4, 2010, 4:48pm


MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - The Alabama Supreme Court is allowing lawsuits filed by state Attorney General Troy King against two pharmaceutical companies to be consolidated.

Actions against Par Pharmaceutical and Mylan will be consolidated in Montgomery Circuit Court, the court ruled Thursday. The lawsuits are part of King's largely unsuccessful assault on the industry in which he sued 73 companies over their pricing practices.

The ruling lifts stays on both lawsuits that have been in place since May. It is the second time the court has consolidated two of King's suits, the first time involving Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline.

Par and Mylan claimed that a jury could be unfairly influenced by evidence against the other company. Only Justice Glenn Murdock dissented.

Murdock copied his previous dissent in the Novartis issue, writing that "because of the factual complexity of the claims and defenses of the parties and the likelihood of substantial confusion on the part of the jury and of prejudice to the defendants as a result of the consolidation, I respectfully dissent."

Both Novartis and GSK were ultimately successful in fighting King.

King hired prominent plaintiffs attorney Jere Beasley to file the lawsuits on behalf of the State.

State Medicaid agencies reimburse providers based on an estimated cost, like an average wholesale price. King, as well as other state attorneys general, claimed drug makers did not include discounts and rebates in their list prices for drugs, and the State used the list price to reimburse the provider.

Jury verdicts against AstraZeneca, Novartis Pharmaceutical and GlaxoSmithKline resulted in awards of $215 million, $33 million and $80.9 million, respectively.

The AstraZeneca verdict was eventually reduced to $160 million. However, the state Supreme Court overturned all three last year, and two others failed in lower courts.

Settlements, though, have resulted in at least $34 million. King is also fighting the federal government over how much the federal Medicaid agency can claim from that amount.

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