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Arizona Cashes in On $40.8 Million Settlement With Drug Companies

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Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne today agreed to a hefty $40.8 million settlement agreement with GlaxoSmithKline LLC  and PB Pharmco -- companies accused of distributing defective drugs.

After divvying up the settlement between 37 states and the District of Columbia that also filed complaints, Arizona's raking getting $1.4 million.

From 2001 to 2004, the attorneys general say the companies gave the public bad batches of prescription meds made by factory machines that weren't up to regulation standards.

The drug Kytril, used to control nausea caused by chemotherapy, was said to have no effect on patients, while the antidepressant drug Paxil CR was manufactured with a disproportionate amount of ingredients in each capsule, resulting in non-effective medicine given to millions of people.

Also on the list of defect medications were Avandamet, used to treat diabetes and Bactroban, an antibiotic used to treat skin infections. According to Horne, the botched drug contained bacteria that was actually harmful to skin.

"This is a big deal for Arizona," Horne tells New Times. "[The $1.4 million] goes to support our consumer-fraud operations. That's $1.4 million our tax payers won't have to pay. So I think this is very good."

GlaxoSmithKline, which also owns PB Pharmco, and has manufacturing plants along the East Coast,  maintains it never put the public as risk.

"The company chose to settle the matter, which it initially disclosed in its 2010 fourth quarter results and its 2010 annual report, to avoid the expense and uncertainty of protracted litigation and trial," GlaxoKlineSmith says in a statement released today.

There's no need for panic, Horne says -- all batches of the medications in question were recalled years ago.

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