A Montgomery County jury hit a big drug maker with a huge two hundred fifteen million dollar verdict Thursday after the state said the company carried out a fraudulent pricing scheme to prey on the poor, the sick and the elderly.
It's the first of its kind in the country to go to trial, and dozens more cases are in line for trial here.
The trial went on for two weeks, but at the center of the case, one stunning claim; that drug maker AstraZenica listed one price on state Medicaid purchase lists, which Alabama was obligated to pay, then charged wholesalers far, far below list price.
The lawyers said that created huge profits, some of them 800 times the cost of the drugs.
Today, the jury agreed after it got inside information.
"We proved it, using (the words of) Zeneca, Astra Zeneca employees," said state attorney Jere Beasley.
The verdict could have huge implications, because Alabama plans to sue another 76 drug companies for the same fraud.
It also has nationwide implications, because at least twenty other states are looking into similar claims.
"The people of the state should be thankful that the wrongs have been righted," said attorney general Troy King. "And, the public moneys that were stolen by the corporate manipulation of government rules and regulations have been returned."
AstraZenica lashed out after the verdict, specifically targeting Montgomery County presiding judge Charles Price.
The company said Price committed several procedural errors during the trial, including violations of rules of evidence.
The company also said state officals and prosecutors tainted the case with pretrial comments to media.
There's little doubt the company will appeal, because the stakes are so high, not just for AstraZenica, but almost every other drug company that did Medicaid business with Alabama.
Judge Price ordered state lawyers not to talk about any future trial strategies, or to say who they'll go after next.
But state records show the next drug company trial is scheduled for April, when the state plans to target a nine hundred pound gorilla; drug giant Glaxo Smithkline Beecham.