By Lawrence Hurley
WASHINGTON, April 15 The U.S. Supreme Court on
Monday declined to consider whether private insurers can sue
giant drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc over health costs
incurred by its Avandia diabetes drug.
Humana Inc's Humana Medical Plans had sued Glaxo for
healthcare expenses Medicare patients incurred after using the
drug, which has been linked to heart problems.
Glaxo has paid out at least $460 million to resolve legal
claims related to the drug, according to court papers.
The insurance company administers Medicare Advantage
policies, in which private companies provide Medicare coverage.
Medicare is the government program that provides healthcare
benefits for senior citizens and some under age 65 with certain
Humana sued Glaxo under the federal Medicare Secondary Payer
Act, which it says gives it and other private insurers a right
to sue for reimbursement. The law allows for double damages.
Glaxo countered that the law does not allow insurance
companies that provide Medicare Advantage services and have
incurred their own costs to sue.
The company says companies like Humana should seek
compensation under state laws. The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for Humana, prompting Glaxo to
seek high court review.
The case is GlaxoSmithKline v. Humana, U.S. Supreme Court,