Having won damages from GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis earlier this week, the State of Alabama’s bid to get compensation from the other 69 drugmakers (a case against AstraZeneca has already gone to trial) it sued as part of a Medicaid drug pricing fraud case is gathering pace.

Jere Beasley, whose law firm is representing Alabama, has put the pharmaceutical firms on notice that they have 30 days to settle or be brought to trial. After that time, “there will be no further settlement negotiations by the state," he told a news conference.

The state alleges that the drug companies falsified pricing information, charging Medicaid much higher rates for drugs than they charged retailers, some by as much as 1,000%. Mr Beasley claimed that “the tragedy is the Medicaid programme is designed to benefit the poor, the elderly, the disabled and children. It is mind boggling that these companies would try to get away with cheating."

The original lawsuit was filed by the Alabama Attorney General in January 2005 against 73 pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the first trial, in February this year, saw a jury award Alabama $40 million in compensatory and $175 million in punitive damages from AstraZeneca. However a state judge then reduced that amount to $120 million, because Alabama limits punitive damages to three times the compensatory figure.

Earlier this week, the second case, the GSK/Novartis trial, saw the two firms hit with compensatory damages of $114.1 million in total, though both companies have vehemently denied any wrongdoing and have launched appeals against the decision taken by a jury at the Montgomery County Circuit Court.

In addition to Alabama, 22 other states have filed lawsuits against the 72 pharmaceutical companies, alleging similar Medicaid fraud. Mr Beasley’s firm represents five of them – Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah.