Our firm remains actively involved in antitrust cases around the country. With the economy as tough as it is, companies are finding their competition tougher as well. As a result, companies are doing whatever they can to remain or become competitive. Some of these actions cross a line and are targeted by national competition laws, such as the Sherman Antitrust Act, Clayton Antitrust Act, Robinson-Patman Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act. Additionally, all states have their own antitrust laws, many of which are similar or identical to federal antitrust statutes and are interpreted by the state courts to be consistent with federal law.
Our firm has filed suit against Astellas US, LLC, alleging violation of Federal and Florida state antitrust laws by Astellas, a global top-twenty pharmaceutical company. We represent Lakeland Regional Medical Center, an outstanding non-profit hospital located in Lakeland, Fla. Our suit was filed as a class action and seeks to represent hospitals and clinics nationwide that have been damaged due to Astellas’ anticompetitive behavior. The case is pending in the middle district of Florida.
The suit relates to the use of adenosine, a naturally occurring substance, used in connection with cardiac stress tests. These relatively routine tests are conducted daily at Lakeland Regional and at hundreds of hospitals and clinics throughout the country. Astellas has violated antitrust law by illegally tying the purchase of Astellas’ unpatented adenosine drug, Adenoscan®, to the purchase of its patented method of administering adenosine to patients. In other words, Astellas will not let Lakeland Regional’s doctors use its method of adenosine administration unless Lakeland Regional also purchases Adenoscan® at an inflated price.
Identical generic adenosine is available at one-fourth the price of Adenoscan®, but Astellas will not allow Lakeland Regional and other hospitals and clinics to purchase the generic product. Astellas has gone so far as to threaten patent infringement litigation against Lakeland Regional and other hospitals and clinics that have sought to purchase identical, but less expensive, generic adenosine. This case is a good example of how pharmaceutical companies are driving up the cost of healthcare in this country, as this conduct by Astellas costs Lakeland Regional alone approximately $500,000 annually. The excess costs to hospitals and clinics nationwide run into the hundreds of millions of dollars!
In August, the District Court judge denied Astellas’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and all allegations against the company survive as we move towards class certification. Contact Archie Grubb, a lawyer in our Consumer Fraud Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Archie.Grubb@beasleyallen.com if you have any questions about this case, or about our firm’s antitrust litigation practice.
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