By Cheryl Armstrong, Courthouse News Service
NEWARK (CN) – In an antitrust class action, a doctor says Sanofi Pasteur, the world’s largest producer of vaccines, uses its monopoly on meningococcal vaccines in the United States to raise prices and crush competition.
Sanofi has “an overwhelming 93 percent market share” of the meningococcal vaccine market in the United States, according to named plaintiff Dr. Adriana Castro. She says the company maintains its monopoly through exclusionary contracts with “multiple physician buying groups,” that enforce stiff penalties if a hospital or physician tries to buy any pediatric vaccine, no matter the amount, from a Sanofi competitor.
According to the complaint, Sanofi, a subsidiary of Sanofi-Aventis, is one of four major firms that provide pediatric vaccines in the United States, and until February 2010 was the only firm selling a meningococcal vaccine, Menactra. The vaccine protects against bacterial meningitis.
When a competitor, Novartis, introduced a meningococcal vaccine, Menveo, in February 2010, Sanofi “redoubled its efforts to enforce its anticompetitive PBG (Physician Buying Group) contracts,” according to the complaint.
Dr. Castro says that a “vast majority of family practices, pediatricians and other independent medical practices in the U.S. are members of a PBG,” which performs an abundance of services for their members, “including coordinating and aggregating member purchase of vaccines and other health-care supplies through group purchasing contracts with major vaccine manufacturers and medical supply distributors.”
She says that to purchase products and vaccines, participating providers must enter into contracts with a Physician Buying Group.