AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals has asked an Alabama judge to nullify a jury verdict that ordered the drugmaker to pay the state $215 million in damages in a Medicaid drug-price fraud lawsuit.
The states lawsuit, filed in 2005, charged AstraZeneca with overcharging Medicaid by inflating its prescription-drug prices. The damages were awarded by a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury in February, but AstraZeneca has appealed the decision, saying that the states attorneys failed to prove the company purposely caused Alabamas Medicaid system to overpay for the drugs. AstraZeneca also claimed the award violates a law capping punitive damages at no more than three times the compensatory-damage amount. The award granted a compensatory payment of $40 million and some $175 million in punitive damages, according to the Alabama attorney generals office.
AstraZeneca believes this lawsuit is legally and factually unfounded, and we feel the trial court should reject the jurys verdict in its entirety or, at the very least, grant a new trial, said AstraZeneca spokeswoman Laura Woodin. The trial attorney for the Alabama attorney generals office was not available for comment by deadline.
A decision on the companys request is expected by June 19, but AstraZeneca has said it plans to appeal the judgment to the Alabama Supreme Court if the verdict is not dismissed. Roughly 70 other pharmaceutical companies are also being sued by the Alabama attorney generals office for overcharging Medicaid. A trial with Novartis and Smithkline Beecham Corp. is scheduled for June 16. -- by Shawn Rhea