Jury Awards State Millions in Drug Trial

July 1,  2008

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The jury reached a decision Tuesday afternoon in the fraud lawsuit brought by the state against two drug companies.

The jury awarded the state a little more than $33,000,000 in compensatory damages from Novartis Pharmaceutical Company and almost $81,000,000 in compensatory damages from GlaxoSmithKline also known as GSK.

The jurors deliberated for about seven hours. They were trying to decide if the state of Alabama had been cheated by the drug companies. In other words, did the two drug companies knowingly charge the state's Medicaid agency more for prescription drugs than they charged their other clients? The jury said "Yes, they did."

But, the attorney who represented the state, Jere Beasley, wasn't completely happy with the verdict.  "I was disappointed with the GSK verdict but the jury obviously believed that punitive's weren't justified but I accept that. With Novartis, that was close on punitive's. So, I certainly accept that. Both companies committed fraud without question."

And, one of the attorneys for GSK, Don Jones, had a different reaction. "Certainly, I agree with the jury that punitive damages weren't warranted here - that none should have been awarded and they weren't. We're disappointed with the verdict as to compensatory damages. It's been our position all along that GlaxoSmithKline reported true and accurate prices."

The attorneys representing the state had asked for punitive damages up to $800,000,000 but the jury decided against that and didn't award any punitive damages at all. Attorneys for the drug companies say they will appeal.

And, it's now three down and seventy-eight more to go. So far, the state has won three of the lawsuits against the drug companies that went to trial. Two others were settled out of court. The next case includes Bristol-Myers and Abbott Labs. That trial is scheduled for October.

Reporter: Eileen Jones