23 December 2016

BUSINESS - Prescription Pet Foods Face Class Action Lawsuit

A California class action lawsuit alleges that pet food manufacturers Nestle Purina, Mars Petcare, and Hill’s Pet Nutrition, pet supply chain PetSmart, and veterinary chains Banfield Pet Hospital and BluePearl Vet conspired to falsely promote prescription pet food.

The veterinarian writes a prescription for the specialty food which is then filled at a supplier such as PetSmart.

The complaint argues here is no reason for each brand of pet food to require a prescription, as they “contain no drug or other ingredient not also common in non-prescription pet food.”

The prescription pet food sold by Mars, Purina, and Hill’s are not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and contain no drugs or other legally controlled substances, the plaintiffs state.

Therefore, according to the class action, selling the expensive pet food as requiring a prescription is unfair and deceptive under California consumer protection laws.

The suit includes veterinary clinics because they write the prescription, the manufacturers who make the food and PetSmart because they sell it.

According to the complaint, Mars owns 79 percent of Banfield Pet Hospital, and PetSmart owns the other 21 percent. Many Banfield clinics are inside PetSmart locations. In addition, Mars owns 100 percent of Blue Pearl Vet Hospital.

In the case filing, plaintiffs stated that they and others had overpaid for the prescription formulations and made purchases that they wouldn’t have if not for the prescription requirement.

“We are aware of the recent lawsuit in Northern California against Mars Petcare US, Banfield, Blue Pearl, PetSmart, Hills Pet Nutrition and Nestle Purina Petcare,” Courtney Suthoff, representing Mars Petcare’s Royal Canin for public relation agency FeishmanHillard, told Petfood Industry. “While we do not otherwise comment on pending litigation, we believe the allegations to be without merit and will defend ourselves accordingly.”

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