BOISE – As part of a $36 million national settlement over the cost of the antidepressant drug Remeron, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden on Thursday joined other states in a campaign to tell consumers of possible refunds.
A 10-month investigation by the attorneys general of Oregon, Texas and Florida into allegations that Organan USA Inc. tried to prevent consumer access to lower-cost generic versions of the drug led to the settlement, filed in federal court last October in New Jersey.
Organon, based in Roseland, N.J., is a subsidiary of Akzo Nobel NV, the world’s largest paint manufacturer, based in Arnhem, The Netherlands.
Wasden said thousands of consumers in Idaho and nationally may be entitled to refunds after purchasing Remeron between June 15, 2001 and January 25, 2005.
The state will be compensated for overpayments by government programs including Medicaid at a later date, Wasden said.
The drug also is sold under the generic name Mirtzapine.
At its peak, Remeron was Organan’s top-selling drug, with annual sales of more than $400 million.
The states alleged in their lawsuit that Organon illegally extended its monopoly on the drug by improperly listing a new “combination therapy” patent with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In addition, the states alleged that Organon delayed listing the patent with the FDA in another effort to slow the availability of lower-cost generic substitutes, resulting in higher prices.
“The defendants in this case abused the regulatory scheme to stifle competition and prevent consumers from having access to low-cost, generic equivalents of this drug,” Wasden said.
The notification campaign will include advertisements in publications including Readers Digest, Parade and USA Today.
Pharmacists and psychiatrists also have been asked for assistance in notifying patients of the refunds.
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