Pill-splitting lawsuit

Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports and prominent member of the Litigation Lobby, recommends that readers save money on prescription drugs by buying higher dosage pills and dividing them with a pill-splitter to get the correct dosage. They’re not the only ones who try to save money this way: many HMOs implement the same policy. There’s no evidence that this has injured anyone, but plaintiffs’ lawyers sued Kaiser, anyway, claiming it was consumer fraud, and seeking half a billion dollars. Kaiser disputes the contention that the policy is mandatory; they say their policy is voluntary, and applies only to a handful of “scored” pills where differences in dosage would not be critical. Lower courts granted summary judgment on the case, and this week the California Supreme Court gave it the final coup de grace by refusing to hear an appeal. While press coverage suggests that the retroactivity of Proposition 64 could have been decided by this case, the lower courts decided it without resort to the new law, which would’ve precluded the suit in the first instance. (Dan Walters, “Businesses win twice in tort battles, but …”, Sacramento Bee/Victorville Daily Press, Mar. 9; Vicki Lankarge, “Study: Pill-Splitting Saves Money, Is Safe”, Health Care News, Dec. 1, 2002; “Kaiser sued over pill splitting”, American Medical News, Dec. 25, 2000; CJAC press release, Mar. 8; Timmis v. Kaiser Permanente, No. A102962, 2004 Cal App Unpub Lexis 11553 (Dec. 21, 2004)). More: see Jun. 13.

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  • Beldar predicts strange bedfellows will gang-rape insurance company

    I’m a cynic. But when I read this story — about giant United Healthcare urging its insureds to