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Cancer Patients Benefit From Lawsuit Settlement

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Some good news for cancer patients who've invested a lot financially in their treatment. An antitrust suit brought by the Attorneys General of all 50 states, the U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia against manufacturers of a chemotherapy drug has been settled.

As a medical oncologist, Dr. Peter Eisenberg has been caring for cancer patients for almost 25 years.

Dr. Peter Eisenberg, Medical oncologist: "Cancer is not something that just happens to a person's body. It happens to their emotions, their spirit, their soul. I can't imagine having to worry about the financial issues while a patient is fighting for their life."

But many do. Patients like Kathi Sibbald, who had ovarian cancer.

Kathi Sibbald, Cancer survivor: "I was on disability and I not only had to concern myself with getting better, but I had to worry about how I was going to pay for all of that treatment."

Kathi had surgery and then chemotherapy with Taxol. Taxol is the brand name for the cancer drug Paclitaxel, used primarily to treat patients with breast and ovarian cancers, as well as certain lung cancers.

Patients like Kathy may have as much as $2,600 in claims coming if they purchased Taxol between January 1999 and February 2003. The reimbursement is for alleged overcharges by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, the manufacturer of Taxol.

It's the result of a $62-million settlement of an antitrust suit that alleges the manufacturer used fraudulent means to delay the entry of lower-priced generic versions of Taxol.

Kathi Sibbald: "This settlement is very good news."

As many as 400,000 cancer patients could be eligible for some portion of what they paid for the drug, or to reimburse insured patients for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance.

Dr. Eisenberg: "Cancer care is expensive. The fact that there may be a refund available for some patients who received Taxol is a good thing. Patients who received Taxol should find out if they're eligible."

Over $7-million worth of Taxol will be provided to the states for compassionate care treatment of lower income cance patients.

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