Pet owners sue maker of veterinary products, claiming inflated prices

Cardi B, an American Fox Hound, is displayed during the press preview of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Hudson Yards in New York, U.S., June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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  • Antitrust complaint in California federal court alleges anti-competitive contracts raise prices for consumers
  • Lawsuit filed by pet owners from states including New York, California, Florida and Illinois

(Reuters) – Pet owners say veterinary products maker IDEXX Laboratories has thwarted competition for diagnostic tests and forced consumers to pay artificially high prices for animal health services, in a lawsuit. antitrust lawsuit filed Monday in California federal court.

The proposed class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleges that Maine-based IDEXX has abused its market power since 2018 through exclusive, long-term contracts with veterinary practices in across the country.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and unspecified damages in excess of $5 million. The division of IDEXX that sells pet products reported revenue of $2.88 billion last year, according to the lawsuit. Nasdaq-listed IDEXX employs more than 10,300 workers in 33 countries, according to its data.

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“Because IDEXX prevented actual or potential rivals from gaining a foothold in the relevant market and submarkets, it eliminated or impaired the price discipline that would flow from free and fair competition,” the complaint alleges.

A representative for IDEXX declined to comment on Tuesday. No attorney had yet appeared for IDEXX in this case.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys at Berger Montague and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, did not immediately return a similar message.

The lawsuit, which said it represents the interests of thousands of potential class members, was filed by pet owners from 14 states, including New York, California, Florida, Massachusetts and the United States. Illinois.

The 92-page complaint relates to “internal point-of-care” diagnostic testing devices that class attorneys say are used “to treat pets and other pets when rapid test results are needed. “. Plaintiffs’ attorneys said those tests included those for heartworms.

IDEXX settled antitrust claims from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2013. The company, which did not admit liability, agreed to end certain exclusive agreements with three national distributors of “point of care”.

The FTC then described IDEXX as the “largest American supplier of diagnostic test products used by small animal veterinarians”.

A Vinson & Elkins attorney who represented the company in the FTC’s antitrust investigation did not immediately return a message Tuesday seeking comment.

Pet owners in the new lawsuit said IDEXX implemented restrictive contracts with veterinary practices after the FTC investigation.

The complaint alleged that six-year contracts with veterinary practices included high purchase requirements and equally high penalties for “disloyalty”.

The case is Cam Yuen et al v. IDEXX Laboratories Inc, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 3:22-cv-04297.

For plaintiffs: Joshua Davis of Berger Montague; Brent Johnson of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll; and Jennie Anderson by Andrus Anderson

For the defendant: not yet appeared

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