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DRUG LAWSUIT SETTLED; SCHIZOPHRENICS TO BENEFIT

 DRUG LAWSUIT SETTLED; SCHIZOPHRENICS TO BENEFIT
 SACRAMENTO, Calif., Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- More people with


schizophrenia will have access to the breakthrough drug Clozaril because of a restraint of trade lawsuit settled today. Sandoz Pharmaceutical Corp. and Caremark Corp., a subsidiary of Baxter-Travenol, agreed to a nearly $1 million settlement related to the cost of the drug and the required weekly blood monitoring services in California since February 1990, the California Department of Mental Health said today.
 This settlement will, in effect, reduce Clozaril's cost, making it more accessible to local governments with limited financial resources.
 California is one of 33 states, the District of Columbia and numerous private entities that filed suit in a Chicago federal court over the marketing and monitoring of the antipsychotic drug. The state attorney general's office represented the California Department of Mental Health in proceedings.
 The lawsuit sought to end the expensive practice of "bundling," the required combining of drug purchase with blood drawing, testing and monitoring services from a specific company. Under the bundled arrangement, Clozaril cost $8,944 per patient per year, making it the most expensive general-use drug in the United States, even more costly than azidothymidine (AZT) for AIDS patients.
 After unbundling, Clozaril alone costs approximately $4,000 a year for an average 600 mg dose.
 Patients on Clozaril require weekly blood tests that monitor a potentially lethal side effect called agranulocytosis that causes low white blood cell count.
 California state hospitals, counties and psychiatric facilities now can use their own laboratories at a reduced cost and make the drug available to more patients. Settlement Terms
 Under the terms of the settlement, California consumers or agencies who purchased Clozaril between February 1990 and June 1991 will receive an estimated total $482,000 in cash compensation. Additionally, the California Department of Mental Health will receive $425,000 in scrip toward future purchase of the drug. The settlement also prohibits bundling of the drug.
 The national settlement amounted to approximately $20 million, of which $10 million will be allocated to consumers. The remainder will be paid to state departments of mental health and for attorneys' fees.
 News of the settlement is particularly welcomed by public mental health agencies. An estimated 80 percent of the individuals who are suitable candidates for Clozaril are treated at public expense. Now more candidates may receive the drug at less cost to the public.
 The scrip awarded to the department will provide a year's worth of the drug for more than 80 state hospital patients. Currently, 331 patients receive the drug, with 175 of those at Napa State Hospital.
 California has 60,000 people who are potentially eligible for treatment; only 1,300 have been treated. The Drug
 Clozaril is the brand name for the drug clozapine, which is marketed in the United States by Sandoz Pharmaceutical Corp. It is an effective treatment for many people with schizophrenia and is an alternative to traditional drugs like Thorazine.
 More than half of the nation's people with schizophrenia respond to standard treatments. Initial studies show that approximately two-thirds of those who have not responded to other forms of drug therapy will respond to Clozaril treatment.
 Patients have become less withdrawn and report that the voices characteristic of schizophrenia are abated. Clozaril also greatly cuts the cost of medical care by greatly reducing the need for hospitalization and other intervention.
 There are potential side effects. A small number of patients develop agranulocytosis, which can be fatal. This low-count white blood cell condition disappears when the drug is discontinued. Regular blood monitoring is critical to the successful use of the drug.
 -0- 9/3/92
 /CONTACT: Lauren Wonder, assistant director of public affairs, of the California Department of Mental Health, 916-654-2309/ CO: California Department of Mental Health ST: California IN: HEA SU:


GT-BR -- SF004 -- 6523 09/03/92 14:57 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 3, 1992
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