Archive for Friday, November 5, 2004

State settles flu-shot gouging lawsuit

Florida company agrees to comply with laws

November 5, 2004


— The Kansas attorney general's office said Thursday that it had settled a consumer protection lawsuit alleging that a Florida company attempted to sell flu vaccine at inflated prices.

Under the settlement terms, ASAP Meds Inc., doing business as Meds-Stat of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., confirmed that it had sold no vaccine in Kansas. It also agreed to comply with state consumer protection laws and to reimburse the state for about $2,500 in legal expenses.

Atty. Gen. Phill Kline's office filed the lawsuit Oct. 12 in Shawnee County District Court amid a flu vaccine shortage.

The shortage had developed a week earlier, when Chiron Corp. was barred from shipping 48 million flu shots to the United States because of a contamination at a plant in England.

Kline's office alleged that Meds-Stat proposed Oct. 8 to sell a 10-dose vial of flu vaccine to a Kansas City, Kan., pharmacy for $900. A week earlier, vaccine was being sold nationwide for about $85.

Sam Karsch, vice president of Meds-Stat, said that Kline's office sued his firm before doing a proper investigation and that the company was contacted by the Kansas pharmacy.

"We just feel that we've been made a scapegoat in a political witch hunt," Karsch said, adding that the company purchased 335 vials of vaccine for as much as $610 each.

But Whitney Watson, a spokesman for Kline, insisted that Med-Stat solicited sales to hospitals, health agencies and private businesses. He said Meds-Stat didn't sell any vaccine in Kansas because the attorney general's office acted so quickly.

Meds-Stat settled a similar lawsuit with Florida Atty. Gen. Charlie Crist; the company agreed not to sell any more vaccine and to donate its remaining five vials for state health distribution. Lawsuits also have been filed in Connecticut and Texas.

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