On April 16, 2014, the Honorable Joan B. Gottschall, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois, granted Final Approval of a $64 million settlement between Plaintiffs and Defendants Baxter International, Inc. and Baxter Healthcare, concluding all litigation in this multi-year conspiracy to restrict output and fix prices for life-saving therapies derived from blood plasma resulting in total settlements of $128 million.
On April 7, 2010, Cohen Milstein and Boston-based Shapiro Haber & Urmy were appointed to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (“PSC”) in In re Plasma-Derivative Protein Therapies Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2109 (N.D. Ill.), an antitrust class action alleging a multi-year conspiracy to restrict output and fix prices of IVIG and Albumin in the United States.
Plaintiffs alleged that sinking profits in the plasma-derivative protein therapies market spurred Baxter and CSL to unlawfully agree to reduce supply and fix prices beginning in July 2003.
According to Plaintiff Pemiscot Memorial Hospital’s amended complaint, Baxter and CSL, with the assistance of the Plasma Protein Therapeutics Association (PPTA), took various actions to reduce supply and increase profitability:
- Baxter and CSL gained significant market share by acquiring competitors and soon thereafter closed many of these newly acquired plants, thereby reducing industry supply.
- Defendants worked with PPTA to refine a data monitoring system that could be used to police the conspiracy. CSL and Baxter also used PPTA and other industry meetings as an opportunity to exchange inappropriate and potentially anticompetitive information.
- Defendants, including PPTA, signaled to each other and to fellow suppliers the desirability of restricting supply of plasma-derivative protein therapies to the marketplace through analysts and investor calls, and calls to the press.
- Defendants frequently engaged in anticompetitive discussions involving supply and pricing issues at and after trade association and business meetings.
- In an effort to ward off government intervention once the conspiracy began to produce results, Baxter and CSL, in coordination with PPTA, publicly denied supply shortages, significantly over-reported industry supply figures and misleadingly blamed Medicare reimbursement rates for patients’ difficulties in obtaining these crucial therapies.
As a result of the Defendants’ unlawful conduct, Plaintiffs and the other members of the class paid supra-competitive prices for plasma-derivative protein therapies.
According to studies, Defendants’ conspiracy was so severe that it caused a nationwide shortage of life-saving treatments. According to a 2005 study, 33% of doctors experienced significant difficulty obtaining Ig. These doctors also reported that 40% of those patients denied access to their Ig therapy had suffered adverse health effects.
The case is styled: In re Plasma-Derivative Protein Therapies Antitrust Litigation, MDL No. 2109 (N.D. Ill.)