CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – When 17 state representatives wrote New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte in May, asking her to seek compensation from pharmaceutical companies that have improperly marketed or not fully disclosed side effects of antipsychotic drugs, they didn’t know that one of the companies was under investigation.

Last week, the state’s Medicaid fraud unit announced a $1.2 million settlement with Bristol-Myers Squibb and a former subsidiary over several alleged practices, including its marketing of Abilify to treat children and dementia patients, for whom it was not approved.

The $1.2 million is New Hampshire’s share of a $515 million national civil settlement, which involved 43 states and the federal government.

The settlement also includes allegations that Bristol-Myers Squibb overpriced various drugs and made illegal payments to doctors.

The lead petitioner, Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, said last week that he is happy with Ayotte’s progress, but he wants continued action.

What first caught Baldasaro’s attention was a huge increase in state spending on newer antipsychotic drugs for children almost $4 million last year, up from less than $300,000 in 2000.

When Baldasaro and other officials saw other states taking drug manufacturers to court to recover money wrongfully collected from them, the legislators wanted New Hampshire to follow suit. Their petition asked Ayotte to sue Bristol-Myers Squibb, manufacturer of Abilify, and Eli Lilly, manufacturer of Zyprexa. Both drugs are prescribed for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Lilly has paid at least $1.2 billion in settlements to Zyprexa users nationwide, over claims they developed diabetes or other diseases from using the drug.

In response to the petition, Baldasaro said he got a letter from Ayotte last month saying that New Hampshire has taken on cases against eight drug companies.

Ultimately, Baldasaro and the other petitioners want a deterrent against improper marketing of powerful drugs.

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