$61.5 Million Settlement Reached In Pharmaceutical Antitrust Class Action

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel

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On January 27, 2017, the ongoing five-year suit between pharmaceutical juggernaut Sanofi Pasteur Inc. and a class of American doctors was finally drawn to a tentative close with both parties agreeing to a $61.5 million settlement. The suit, which was originally filed by a group of American doctors in December 2011, alleged that the pharmaceutical manufacturer violated antitrust laws in its contracts with health care providers.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that defendant Sanofi attempted to uphold its monopoly in the pediatric vaccine market by bundling its vaccines together in an attempt to combat the introduction of a rival quadrivalent meningoccal vaccine by Novartis AG. Prior to the introduction of Novartis’ alternative vaccine, Sanofi had enjoyed a 100% monopoly with its quadrivalent meningoccal vaccine, Menactra. In order to maintain its foothold in the market, Sanofi introduced its vaccine bundle offer. Sanofi initially began its quest for market dominance by raising prices of individual vaccines and then offering doctors incentives to buy a variety of vaccines all at once for a lower price. Sanofi justified the price drop on bundle purchases by calling it a “loyalty discount.”

 The class, which includes more than 26,000 physicians who purchased Menactra from Defendant directly or one of its subsidiaries, was granted class status in September 2015. A year after class status was granted Sanofi filed a motion of summary judgment. Defendant argued in its motion that the bundled vaccines were simply a sales pitch and were in no way an attempt to have a monopoly on the market.

However, after a long, five-year battle, the parties finally reached an agreement on January 27, 2017. Sanofi still vigorously denies the plaintiffs’ claims but the company stated that it agreed to bring the suit to a close in an effort to avoid further expense and inconvenience of a protracted litigation.

The case is: The case is Castro v. Sanofi Pasteur Inc., case number 2:11-cv-07178, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

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