Patients qualify if they paid all or part of the prescription costs for the drug at any time from January 1, 1998, through
January 29, 2003, Miller said. Generic equivalents for Cardizem may be called Cartia XT, Diltiazem CD, or Diltiazem
Hydrochloride Extended Release Capsules.
Miller said information packets and claim forms can be obtained toll-free at 1-800-372-2406, or online at
www.cardizemsettlement.com. The process will be handled by a claims administrator. "The deadline is only six weeks off,
so we encourage Iowans to check it out now," Miller said.
"Cardizem CD and its equivalents are widely-prescribed," Miller said. "I strongly encourage Iowans to obtain information
and a claim form and submit it by the Sept. 23 deadline if they used the drug. We estimate there may be about 10,000 Iowa
users of the drug, since there are about a million nationwide. If you aren't sure if you use Cardizem CD, ask your doctor or
pharmacist, and ask your pharmacist to help you with your usage and payment record."
Jerry Karbeling, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs for the Iowa Pharmacy Association and owner of Big Creek
Pharmacy in Polk City, joined Miller at a news conference Wednesday. Miller said he hopes Iowans will take advantage of
the opportunity, as they have in other refund situations. "The Pharmacy Association and pharmacists all over Iowa played a
key role in Iowa consumers being paid over $1.2 million last year in a separate case alleging an illegal drug monopolization
scheme," he said. "Pharmacists did a superb job helping people get the right data."
The Cardizem refund process has been approved by the Federal District Court in Detroit, and the court will have to approve
the final distribution plans after close of the filing period.
The States' claims administrator is doing a vigorous notification program, including ads in many national publications from
Better Homes & Gardens to Reader's Digest and Parade.
The Antitrust Case:
Miller said Aventis Pharmaceuticals and the Andrx Corp. together are paying
to compensate consumers, state agencies and insurance companies that overpaid
for Cardizem CD or its generic equivalents. The multi-state lawsuit alleged
that Hoechst (a pharmaceutical company later acquired by Aventis) illegally
paid Andrx about $90 million so that Andrx would not bring a generic version
of Cardizem CD to market for about a year.
"Generic drugs usually are cheaper," Miller said. "We alleged that delaying
the generic version resulted in higher prices for consumers, medical insurance
companies, and government agencies who help pay for prescription drugs.
This is one way to help make it right, and we hope consumers will take
advantage of the claim program." The two companies did not admit wrongdoing.
"Prescription drugs are a huge business -- and one of the largest expenses
for consumers and taxpayers," Miller said. "Companies need to act fairly
and lawfully. That protects consumers and taxpayers and makes a level
playing field for all businesses."
"Cardizem CD" and equivalents:
The drug is used to treat patients with hypertension and angina (heart pains.) Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects
as many as 50 million adult Americans, according to the American Heart Association. It killed nearly 45,000 Americans
last year and contributed to another 118,000 deaths. The condition is highly treatable with drugs such as Cardizem CD,
which belongs to a group of medications called calcium channel blockers (CCBs) that are widely used to treat hypertension.
A recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association warned that even hypertension levels once considered
mild can cause long-term damage, increasing the importance of treatment.
"Hypertension is a disease that is treatable but not curable. It is important for patients to understand that when they are
diagnosed with high blood pressure, they are likely to be prescribed medications for the rest of their lives," said Dr. James
Welsh, M.D., a family practice physician and Vice Chair of Georgetown University's Department of Family Medicine.
"The Cardizem settlement is great news for patients with high blood pressure," said Welsh. "Anything that allows patients
to be more able to afford their medication and be more compliant with their medication may, in fact, save lives."
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