The lies and deceit are catching up with ‘them’. Another pet food lawsuit has been filed…this time it is prescription pet food. This is a VERY valid lawsuit.
The new class action lawsuit claims that prescription pet foods are a “deceptive scheme”. One law firm representing consumers in the suit states pet food consumers are…
…overcharged due to the misrepresentation and illegal collusion of pet food retailers and manufacturers. The four main pet food brands involved in the suit include:
Hill’s Prescription Diet
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet
Iams Veterinary Formula
These foods contain no drugs, medicines or ingredients that would have a significant on a pet’s health when compared to any other pet food. The only difference is in the price charged to consumers.
The actual complaint (published on Marion Nestle’s website FoodPolitics.com) has some interesting tidbits too. The lawsuit claims there are “plus factors” that enable the ‘deceptive scheme’ to continue…
The first such plus factor is the interlocking and common nature of the business relationships among Defendants. Mars, which is the biggest seller of pet food and sells two of the four Prescription Pet Food brands, is also the owner of the largest veterinarian hospital chain the the United States, Blue Pearl Vet Hospital, which employs veterinarians writing prescriptions for Prescription Pet Food. Mars also partners with the largest specialty pet retailer, Petsmart, in the ownership of the largest veterinarian clinic chain, Banfield Pet Hosptal, which employs veterinarians writing prescriptions for Prescription Pet Food.
A second plus factor is Defendant manufacturers’ participation in and use of an industry trade association, the Pet Food Institute (PFI), to implement and perpetuate their price-fixing agreement. Defendant manufactures are all on PFI’s board of directors and have used PFI’s auspices to promote their price-fixing agreement that Prescription Pet Food should be sold ostensibly as a product subject to FDA regulation and the FD&C Act. For example, the Defendant manufacturers, through PFI, have joined together to urge the FDA that, although Prescription Pet Foods “are not drugs” and “no drug registration or drug listing should be required,” such products should nevertheless “only be available to the public through licensed veterinarians with whom the purchases has a valid Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship.
A third plus factor is that each Defendant has acted contrary to its own individual, independent self-interest in marketing and selling Prescription Pet Food. Specifically, each Defendant has know and understood that it was engaging in deceptive practices that could not succeed unless each other Defendant had agreed to engage in similar conduct. Thus, each Defendant knew and understood that if even one Defendant acknowledged that no Prescription Authorization was actually required or exposed the scheme, all would be forced to follow and the scheme would fail, and each Defendant maintained a conscious commitment to abide by the deceptive scheme.
All of the claims of this lawsuit – in my opinion – are absolutely correct. And again – opinion – there is one more ‘plus factor’ the lawsuit neglects to take into consideration…the enabler of the ‘deceptive scheme’. The FDA.
Just like with illegal pet food ingredients, the FDA has a Compliance Policy allowing the pet food industry – specifically with prescription pet food allowing Hill’s, Purina and Mars to claim a feed grade pet food (often including illegal ingredients) can “cure, mitigate, treat or prevent” a disease. Pet food (feed) is the ONLY food that is allowed to make a ‘cure, mitigate, treat or prevent’ a disease claim – the only. An organic apple farmer would be shut down if they made the claim ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ – but not pet food. The FDA gives special permission to Hill’s, Purina and Mars to claim their pet feeds can cure or treat a disease.
FDA Compliance Policies are not legal. In fact, this Compliance Policy which allows basically price gouging consumers is very illegal – it is a direct violation of a Supreme Court ruling guiding what government agencies can and cannot do; Chevron deference. The FDA has no authority to enable pet food companies to sell food as a drug when that ‘food’ (feed) meets no legal requirement of a drug.
The collusion between Big Pet Food and FDA (and AAFCO and State Department of Agriculture) must be stopped. The enablers must be stopped.
Thank you to these lawyers for taking this battle on; consumers need you to fight for our rights.
For any consumer that has purchased prescription pet food that would like to join in this battle, here is one of the law firms involved: http://www.walkuplawoffice.com/Pet-Food-Fraud-Landing-Page_ppc_lp.shtml
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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