Central Alabama Comprehensive Health, Tuskegee, filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Montgomery seeking to represent all public hospitals and community health centers that may have been overcharged by pharmaceutical manufacturers by as much as $500 million per year. The suit is based on a June report by HHS' inspector general's office that said many drugmakers appeared to be in violation of a 1992 law that requires them to charge public hospitals and community health centers less than the amount paid by other purchasers. Sampling prices paid in September 2002, investigators found that more than 97% of public hospitals were charged amounts above the legal limit. Merck & Co. and Pfizer, which are among the nine companies named in the suit, said they weren't commenting on the litigation. Eli Lilly & Co., also named, didn't return a call by deadline. -- by Joe Mantone
Suit filed over drug prices for public hospitals
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