States aim to join Wyeth whistleblower suits

Seventeen states have asked to join two whistleblower lawsuits that allege Wyeth kept mum about discounts it had offered on its Protonix drugs, depriving Medicaid of the same prices. If the court allows, those states will join forces with 16 other states and the District of Columbia, not to mention the U.S. government.

According to the lawsuits, Wyeth (now owned by Pfizer) offered big-time discounts to hospitals across the country, provided they bought the stomach drug Protonix in both oral and IV forms. The idea was to nab hospital patients with the IV Protonix, so that they would use the oral form of the drug once they'd been discharged, Pharmalot reports. Hospitals that met certain market-share targets got discounts of up to 94 percent on the oral form and 80 percent off the IV form.

That's all well and good. The problem is, according to the lawsuits, Wyeth didn't pass similar discounts on to Medicaid, which by law gets the lowest prevailing price for a given drug. That alleged failure cost Medicaid programs "hundreds of millions in rebates," the suits allege.

- check out the release from the Kansas attorney general
- see the post at Pharmalot