Dubin Medical Denies Price Gouging in Flu Vaccine Distribution
San Diego-based Dubin Medical last week denied allegations that it charged unfair prices for flu vaccines amid a national shortage, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/28).
Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) last week subpoenaed the vaccine distributor and two other companies as part of an investigation into alleged price gouging for flu vaccines. Lockyer is seeking pricing and cost information related to the flu vaccine.
Tom Dresslar, a spokesperson for Lockyer, said the attorney general's office has received reports of flu vaccine -- which ordinarily sells for about $85 per vial -- being offered for $400 to $900 a vial. Price gouging is not a federal offense, and laws governing the practice vary from state to state. In California, price gouging is prohibited during a natural disaster or manmade emergency, such as a riot.
Dresslar said that the distributors could be prosecuted under state laws governing consumer protection and unfair business practices.
If Lockyer finds sufficient evidence of price gouging by distributors, he could file a lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order. In addition, civil charges could be brought with fines of up to $25,000 for each infraction.
Dresslar said the attorney general's office also could seek restitution (California Healthline, 10/25).
Officials for Dubin, which also has been sued by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), on Monday said in a statement that it only is passing along higher costs that the company is paying for the vaccine. "At no time has Dubin overcharged its customers or in any way taken advantage of the short supply of flu vaccine," Dubin stated. The company added that it will provide Abbott with "accurate and complete information concerning the lawsuit, so that he can reassure the citizens of Texas that Dubin has done nothing wrong" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.