WASHINGTON, Feb 21 (Reuters) – AstraZeneca Plc said on Thursday it would appeal a jury ruling that it pay $215 million in damages, in an Alabama lawsuit related to drug pricing under the Medicaid health program for the needy.

A state jury ruled AstraZeneca should pay $40 million in compensatory damages and $175 million in punitive damages. The company was charged with reporting false pharmaceutical prices to Medicaid, the joint state-federal program that insures millions of individuals.

The case in the Circuit Court of Montgomery, Alabama, stemmed from a 2005 lawsuit filed by the Alabama Attorney General alleging AstraZeneca and dozens of other companies inflated prices to Medicaid.

The Anglo-Swedish drug company said it would appeal the case to the Alabama Supreme Court if a trial court did not reject the jury’s verdict that it said was based on “numerous errors” throughout the proceedings.

It will also file a motion that the punitive damages violate state law, which caps such damages at three times compensatory damages, according to AstraZeneca spokesman Tony Jewell.

Reporting by Kim Dixon; Editing by Braden Reddall, Richard Chang

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