Settlement reached in antitrust lawsuits against five companies

September 18, 1990

Three pharmacy chains and two other companies will settle lawsuits alleging they violated antitrust laws by eliminating discounts on customers' co-payments for prescriptions bought through a health plan, the state said yesterday.

The complaint was filed by the attorney general's office in federal court in Baltimore against Prescription Network of Maryland, a company formed by Maryland pharmacies; its claims processor, Health Services Plus Inc.; Rite Aid Corp.; Safeway and K mart Corp. In a separate complaint, the state charged Giant Food Inc. under the antitrust law for agreeing to eliminate discounts on co-payments.

Prescription Network, Health Services Plus, Giant, Safeway, and K mart have agreed to settle the suits and provide an estimated $120,000 in refunds.

Any money that is not returned to customers will be used for cancer education.

The complaints allege that between March 1, 1988, and June 1, 1989, the pharmacies, through their participation in the prescription network, agreed they would not waive or discount the co-payments collected from CareFirst patients.

Before the alleged conspiracy, patients who had a CareFirst prescription drug card often were given a discount of 50 percent or more on the co-payments for medicine they bought. The alleged scheme eliminated those discounts.

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