$33M coming to MS after drug pricing lawsuit victory

$33M coming to MS after drug pricing lawsuit victory

JACKSON, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said his office has recovered more than $33 million from a pharmaceutical company after the State Supreme Court ruled the company defrauded the state by overcharging for drugs paid for through the state's Medicaid program.

Hood said the court determined Watson, Inc. manipulated drug prices, costing the taxpayers of Mississippi more than $7 million. In some cases, Hood said, the company would inflate drug prices by as much as 1,000 percent, causing Mississippi Medicaid to grossly overpay for the prescriptions.

"We have recovered over $200 million from drug companies in our Average Wholesale Price litigation for overcharges and penalties on drugs paid for by our Department of Medicaid. Of all the companies we have done battle with, Watson Pharmaceuticals is one of the worst offenders," Hood said in a statement Monday. "The trial court found they overcharged the state by 1,000 percent on some drugs. A chancery judge in Rankin County issued a $20 million punitive damage verdict, which was upheld by the Mississippi Supreme Court. These types of corporate robbers get away with it unless an attorney general holds them accountable."

Hood is using the recovery to spotlight a bill in the Mississippi legislature he says will remove prosecutorial power from the Office of the Attorney General.

According to Hood, if House Bill 1238 passes, it would allow federally regulated companies to claim they do not fall under the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act.

"Much of the successes in our office have been protecting consumers from corporate wrongdoers, and the people of Mississippi deserve more than their lawmakers stripping those protections," said Hood.

Hood said the bill would be "devastating" to Mississippi consumers.