Contact: Tim Fuller
Executive Director, Gray Panthers

NOW, Gray Panthers, SPAN To Take Action Against Pharmaceutical Market Abuses

Washington, DC (May 14, 2001)-The SPAN Coalition today announced that it will organize consumer and patient groups across the country to initiate a series of class action lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies that prevent competition and endanger public health. The strategy is intended to raise the financial stakes for drug manufacturers that engage in anti-competitive or anti-consumer behavior in order to avoid competition.

The National Organization for Women (NOW) announced that it will lead the latest class action suit against Bristol-Myers Squibb for tactics it used to prevent patient access to lower-priced versions of Taxol, a treatment for breast and ovarian cancer. A federal court ruled in March of last year that the tactics included "an intent to deceive" the government.

"Congress is letting pharmaceutical companies get away with abuse," stated NOW President Patricia Ireland. "Until congressional leaders take action, we will hold corporations like Bristol-Myers Squibb accountable for their unfair business practices."

SPAN members filed a similar suit against Bristol-Myers Squibb in April to recover damages suffered when the company unlawfully prevented competition for BuSpar (buspirone), an anti-anxiety drug. Bristol registered a new patent for the drug with the FDA in order to trigger provisions of a federal law that results in 30-month approval delays for competing generic products. A federal court ordered Bristol to remove the patent this year.

"Consumers have no regulatory avenue for relief from market abuses by pharmaceutical companies," stated Tim Fuller, SPAN founder and Executive Director of the Gray Panthers. "It is time to take matters into our own hands."

SPAN also announced that it is working with specific consumer groups across the nation to prepare similar suits, including against:

SPAN intends to work with state Attorneys General and the Federal Trade Commission to identify marketplace abuses by pharmaceutical manufacturers. It will then help aggrieved parties seek treble damages where anti-competitive behavior by manufacturers can be demonstrated.

"Consumers have no political influence in the pharmaceutical marketplace," according to Fuller. "This strategy will shift the balance of power from drug industry executives and their friends in Congress to the consumers who need relief."

SPAN will establish a national registration process to enable consumers to identify market abuses and sign up to be included in the lawsuits. It also will begin regional meetings and seminars to educate consumer and patient advocacy groups about pharmaceutical industry abuses, and to provide outreach to potential plaintiffs. SPAN will host a national meeting this Summer to discuss the progress of the initiative and to inform members of Congress and industry officials of recommendations for reform.

Further information can be obtained by contacting Tim Fuller (202-737-6637), Patricia Ireland (202-628-8669), or from

SPAN was founded by the Gray Panthers to improve consumer access to safe, more affordable medicine.

CPT Home IP and Healthcare CPT page on Taxol