In March 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the largest criminal fine in a domestic antitrust case in U.S. history. Specifically, a New Jersey generic pharmaceutical company, Sandoz Inc., agreed to pay $195 million dollars in criminal penalties. The penalty stemmed from four counts of felony antitrust charges, which included allegations of conspiring with competitors for:
- Bid rigging
- Allocating customers
- Price fixing for generic drugs
The company admitted to the conduct, agreed to pay the massive fines, and agreed to cooperate with the DOJ Antitrust Division in exchange for a deferred prosecution. Sandoz Inc. is now the third pharmaceutical company to admit to criminal violations of antitrust laws.
Possible Charges and Penalties
There are many different antitrust laws set out under federal and state laws. Many people think of civil penalties for violations of these laws, but such violations can also rise to the level of criminal conduct and can certainly be prosecuted in federal and/or state court. Both the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the DOJ can bring certain federal criminal charges, while the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act gives state attorney generals the authority to file charges in state court.
The possible penalties for criminal antitrust charges will depend on the specific violations alleged. For example, companies convicted of violating the Sherman Act can face fines up to $10 million, while individual defendants face up to three years in federal prison and $350,000 in fines. These are in addition to any civil penalties that can be issued. As you can see, these possible penalties are nothing to be taken lightly.
Preventing Antitrust Issues
If you or your company is accused of Sherman Act violations or other antitrust misconduct, you need the help of an antitrust attorney immediately. However, the best course of action is to avoid such allegations in the first place.
Our antitrust law firm assists many types of healthcare providers with ensuring they are in full compliance with antitrust laws. This includes reviewing all contracts and plans for mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and more. It is a trend for smaller healthcare providers to form networks with other providers to gain more leverage against hospitals and insurance companies. However, this can often raise antitrust concerns if all of your bases are not fully covered. Always have the right attorney reviewing your plans to minimize the chances that you will face issues from antitrust investigators and authorities. In the event you do learn of accusation, you should not delay in seeking legal assistance.
Consult with an Antitrust Attorney as Soon as Possible
At the Law Offices of George M. Sanders, P.C., we work to help healthcare providers and other clients prevent any antitrust issues before they begin. If your company is accused of any type of antitrust violation or is under investigation, you should immediately call a highly trusted and experienced antitrust lawyer. We serve clients in the Chicago area, as well as nationwide. Contact us today for more information.