Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds judgment against pharmaceutical companies

[JURIST] The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday upheld a money judgment [opinion, PDF] against Pharmacia Corporation for inflating drug prices to Wisconsin Medicaid in violation of Wisconsin Statutes 100.18, the Wisconsin's Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA) and 49.49(4m)(a)2, the Medicaid Fraud Statute [text]. In 2009, a jury awarded the state $2 million for the DTPA violation and $7 million for the Medicaid fraud. An appeals court then vacated the jury's answer to a special verdict question and reduced the number of violations Pharmacia had committed during post-trial proceedings. When both parties appealed on numerous issues, the appeals court certified to the supreme court the issues of (1) whether the state had a right to a jury trial, (2) whether the damages were based on the jury's "impermissible speculation" and (3) whether the number of violations were properly reduced by the circuit court. The supreme court affirmed the appeals court's decisions on all of these issues, determining that the state was entitled to a jury trial under the Wisconsin Constitution [text, PDF], the jury's award of damages was not based on impermissible speculation and the appeals court properly reduced the number of violations. After deciding these three issues, the supreme court remanded the case back to the appeals court to decide all other issues appealed by the parties.

Laws regulating pharmaceutical companies and prescription drugs have been the subject of many state and national court rulings. In 2008, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit upheld [JURIST report] the constitutionality of a New Hampshire law that prohibits pharmaceutical companies' gathering data from prescription drug records to target doctors for sales. The law had been struck down [JURIST report] by a federal district court in 2007. Also in 2008, pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. [corporate website] payed $58 million to settle a lawsuit [JURIST report] brought by 29 states for its alleged deceptive advertising for the painkiller Vioxx. In 2005, California also sued 39 pharmaceutical companies [JURIST report] for inflating payments from the state's Medicaid program.

 

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