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BD Sued for Monopolising the U.S. Safety Syringe Market

Can hospitals sue medical device manufacturers for driving up costs? Yes they can!

A healthcare facility and a surgery center have come together to raise voice against “Big” medical device company exposing the the nexus between distributors and manufacturers.

Illinois, US based Marion Diagnostic and Marion Healthcare have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Southern Illinois against BD (Becton Dickinson), its distributors, and group purchasing organizations (GPOs) for monopolising the U.S. safety syringe market according to news reports.

According to MDDI, online, the lawsuit describes the nexus between the manufacturer and the distributors and the fault in the purchasing system of medical devices. “Purchasing those medical devices and supplies is not like buying consumer goods, where a person can simply walk into a store or click on Amazon to compare prices,” the group said in the complaint. “Rather, a purchase must occur via a web of manufacturers, distributors, and group purchasing organizations … that use interrelated contracts to drive up costs for healthcare providers.”

According to MDDI, online this isn’t the first time BD has been accused of monopolizing the U.S. safety syringe market. In 2015, the Southeast Georgia Health System filed a separate antitrust lawsuit against BD. In that suit, the Georgia hospital system accused BD of using its market dominance to force providers to buy overpriced syringes and IV catheters.

According to the plaintiffs BD is also accused of suppressing competition and suppressing innovation and safety. “Through their conspiracy, defendants have suppressed competition by preventing Becton’s rivals from obtaining sufficient market shares to bid Becton’s prices down to economically efficient, competitive levels. The conspiracy has also suppressed conventional and safety syringe innovation and safety, placing patients and healthcare workers at needless risk of serious infectious diseases spread by needlesticks and blood-borne pathogens,” reads the lawsuit.

Last month, Rajiv Nath, Forum Coordinator of Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD) and joint managing director of Hindustan Syringes and Medical Devices had brought to fore the issue of ISO altering the definition of auto-disable (AD) syringes to benefit certain MNCs to gain strategic competitive advantage in the market. The proposed revision of ISO 7886-3 Standard of AD syringes for fixed-dose immunisation would put manufacturers from India and other developing countries at a disadvantage, Nath had said.

According to Pharmabiz, “…the ISO currently defines ‘auto-disable’ syringe as any syringe with a mechanism that disables it automatically in course of giving a full dose of injection either at start of an injection, during the injection or by the end of the injection. A four-member expert sub-group of Working Group 11 that was looking into the review of ISO 7886- 3 Standard of AD syringes for immunisation opted to redefine them and limit them to those designs which had the mechanism to activate the AD function at the beginning of injection and this change was incorporated in the initial Committee Draft of the standard. By this change, over 66 per cent of the existing WHO Performance, Quality and Safety (PDS) designs could be disqualified despite being auto-disable, giving a competitive edge to those few manufacturers who produced the newly defined type. Two of these so-called expert members were from Becton Dickinson and Terumo. Both companies are producing the defined type of AD syringes.”

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