Paynter Law has filed a class-action lawsuit against Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. (“Valeant”) alleging anticompetitive actions and antitrust violations related to a monopoly that Valeant acquired over the market for certain specialty contact lens materials.
The lawsuit is brought on behalf of the finishing labs that are both Valeant’s customers and competitors in the market for rigid gas permeable ("GP") lenses, which are used for a variety of therapeutic and vision-correction purposes. GP lenses are custom made by shaping small disks of material, called “buttons,” into lenses that conform to a patient’s specific prescription.
Before May 2015, the two largest competitors in the market for the manufacture of GP buttons were Paragon Vision Sciences and Bausch & Lomb.
In August 2013, Valeant acquired Bausch & Lomb for $8.7 billion, and in May 2015, Valeant acquired Paragon, giving Valeant control over approximately 70% of the market for GP buttons. Valeant's acquisition also gave it control of 100% of the market for Orthokeratology ("OrthoK") buttons (a smaller subset of GP buttons), as well as control over the other half of the market for OrthoK lenses—composed of a single OrthoK product called the Paragon CRT, which competes directly with the OrthoK lenses manufactured by the finishing labs.
On September 15, 2015, just months after acquiring Paragon, Valeant used its new monopoly power to raise prices and eliminate volume discounts for GP buttons. Valeant’s anticompetitive conduct left the patients they serve with steep price hikes and very limited comparable options in the marketplace.
Valeant further extended its efforts to fully control the GP market by purchasing Pelican Products, a company that manufactures the vast majority of the specialized cases used by the finishing labs to ship GP lenses.
Upon investigating the Paragon Acquisition and Valeant’s subsequent conduct, the FTC found that “[t]he acquisition likely caused significant competitive harm in the relevant markets.” The FTC entered into a Consent Order with Valeant requiring it to divest itself of Paragon in order to “remedy the concerns raised by the acquisition and restore competition in the relevant markets.” The FTC’s Order came too late, however, for purchasers of GP buttons, who had already suffered damages as a result of Valeant’s anticompetitive conduct.
The original complaint was filed by TruForm on behalf of purchasers of OrthoK buttons, but TruForm recently requested permission to file an amended complaint, expanding the case to include all purchasers of GP buttons. The amended complaint alleges violations of various antitrust laws, including the Sherman Act, Clayton Act, and New Jersey Antitrust Act.