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BD Stuck with Antitrust Suit over Syringes

A Georgia hospital system is seeking class action status for its federal antitrust lawsuit against Becton Dickinson & Co.

BD Integra Retracting Syringe
The BD Integra Retracting Syringe, as shown on the company's website

Chris Newmarker

BD owes damages to acute care health providers across the United States over the way it has used its market dominance to force them to buy overpriced syringes and IV catheters, according to a recently filed federal antitrust lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court by the Southeast Georgia Health System, seeks class action status. If such status is achieved, it appears the plaintiffs could seek a substantial amount of money from the Franklin Lake, NJ-based medical device giant, described as a "repetitive antitrust scofflaw" in the lawsuit complaint.

BD has already had to pay $485.6 million over false advertising, antitrust lawsuit damages, and other legal payments related to its treatment of upstart syringe competitor Retractable Technologies (Little Elm, TX)--plus its $124 million acquisition of another competitor, Safety Syringes Inc., the lawsuit complaint notes.

"It is the law of this land, however, that purchasers of monopolized products, such as the United States hospitals represented here, are entitled to the greatest antitrust protection," the Southeast Georgia Health System's lawyers say in the complaint.

"We plan a vigorous defense for this case," said BD spokesman Troy Kirkpatrick.

The lawsuit accuses BD of suppressing competition and maintaining a monopoly in the syringe market through exclusionary bundled rebates, penalty contracts, and sole-source contracts meant to penalize acute care providers that switch to lower cost competitors. Becton Dickinson & Co. went as far as to steal Retractable's innovative technology to use against it, and engaged in six years of competitive deception and false advertising, the lawsuit alleges.

"Becton has also used many of the same schemes to obtain and maintain a monopoly in the market for the sale of IV catheters to acute care providers giving it, without much additional exclusionary effort, a second monopoly," the lawsuit says.

Refresh your medical device industry knowledge at MEDevice San Diego, September 1-2, 2015.

Chris Newmarker is senior editor of Qmed and MPMN. Follow him on Twitter at @newmarker.

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