Becton Dickinson Stuck with Hefty Fine in Needle Case

Nancy Crotti

November 11, 2014

2 Min Read
Becton Dickinson Stuck with Hefty Fine in Needle Case

A federal judge has ordered Becton Dickinson & Co. to pay $340 million to Retractable Technologies, Inc. (RVP) in a long-running dispute over the smaller company's allegations of false advertising.

In the ads in question, Becton Dickinson claimed that its Integra, Safety-Lok and Eclipse safety syringes hold the "world's sharpest needle" and that Retractable Technologies VanishPoint syringe has 0.185 ml of "waste space" volume, according to documents in the case, filed in the Eastern District of Texas.

In September 2013, a federal jury awarded Retractable Technologies $113.5 million in antitrust damages, saying Becton Dickinson had attempted to monopolize the safety syringe market. Antitrust awards are automatically tripled.

The jury also found that Becton Dickinson had violated the Lanham (Trademark) Act by claiming to make the world's sharpest needle. Retractable Technologies, which had not sought relief under the Lanham Act, later requested post-verdict relief, leading to the most recent ruling by Judge Leonard Davis.

Among other rulings, Davis ordered Becton Dickinson to drop the "world's sharpest needle" claim or any "other assertion of superiority in sharpness, or of reduced patient pain, as a result of needle sharpness," for five years. He also ordered Becton Dickinson to refrain from claiming that Becton Dickinson's syringes save medication when compared with Retractable Technologies' VanishPoint syringe, and to train employees to stop making these claims.

Retractable Technologies also argued the Becton Dickinson should forfeit profits it made on syringes "in excess of antitrust damages awarded, or about $275 million." Retractable Technologies apparently miscalculated in subtracting the $113.5 million award from Becton Dickinson's combined conventional and safety syringe profits of $374 million in arriving at the $275 million figure, court documents said.

The correct amount is closer to $261 million, but because antitrust awards are automatically tripled, Becton Dickinson has already paid $340.5 million, Davis wrote. The company marked down a $340 million pretax charge in its fourth quarter 2013 results.

Nancy Crotti is a contributor to Qmed and MPMN.

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About the Author(s)

Nancy Crotti

Nancy Crotti is a frequent contributor to MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected].

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