A picture is worth a thousand words — AFSCME DC 37’s cartoon take on the $350M McKesson settlement
As we reported last month in “Unions in PAL Coalition win $350 Million settlement in McKesson class action,” PAL coalition members AFSCME District Council 37 Health and Security Plan and New England Carpenters Benefits Fund were among the plaintiffs who helped achieve the historic settlement with McKesson.
The good folks at AFSCME DC 37 have their own newspaper, Public Employee Press, which goes to several hundred thousand DC 37 members and others in New York City. In the December 2008 issue, PEP, as it’s known, ran an article on the McKesson settlement. DC 37’s cartoonist has a knack for boiling down hundreds of pages into a single image.
Here are the two cartoons that accompanied the article about the McKesson settlement.
The first summarizes the case against McKesson, showing McKesson as a giant pill holding up consumers, with a “gun” labelled Rx. Note: While the bag of money says “$350 million,” the case alleged that the monetary damages of consumers and health plans were much higher. $350 million represents what McKesson is willing to pay to settle.
The second shows the DC 37 “cop on the beat” taking the McKesson pill into custody.
Here’s the full text of the article that ran in PEP about the case:
The McKesson Corp. has agreed to pay $350 million to settle a lawsuit brought by DC 37 and others who charged the drug wholesaler with illegally inflating the price of members’ medications.
In November, McKesson agreed to settle the case, which accused the firm of fixing prices in 2001 and 2002. The proceeds — including millions of dollars in damages for the DC 37 Health and Security Plan — will go to health plans and consumers.
In the 2006 suit, the DC 37 plan and a group of plaintiffs charged that McKesson conspired to fraudulently inflate the prices of more than 400 prescription drugs by manipulating price information published by First DataBank. The suit was filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and the settlement is one of the largest of its type.
“DC 37 is fighting a huge battle to provide quality prescription drug coverage for our members,” said DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts. “It doesn’t help when those in the industry make it more difficult by rigging the system.”
First DataBank settled quickly, but McKesson, whose annual revenues top $500 billion, refused to settle until now.
McKesson was charged with creating the price-fixing scheme to benefit key retail clients who might otherwise have purchased wholesale prescriptions from its competitors. The lawsuits charged that the McKesson/First DataBank scheme raised the markup on hundreds of brand-name drugs from 20 percent to 25 percent.
DC 37 and three other union members of Prescription Access Litigation, a nationwide coalition of more than 120 senior, labor and consumer health advocacy groups that is fighting to make prescription drugs more affordable, participated in the lawsuit.
DC 37 Health and Security Plan Administrator Cynthia Chin-Marshall said the plan expects compensation in the settlement “for the millions of dollars in inflated prices we’ve been forced to pay.”
“Hopefully we have taught the drug industry a lesson and they will refrain from fixing prices in the future,” said Audrey A. Browne, the plan’s director of regulatory compliance.