Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 | 3:28 p.m.
The Southern Nevada Health District is abusing a federal vaccine program for the poor by unfairly selling the vaccines to the general public and undercutting private competitors, an antitrust complaint filed in federal court alleges.
The complaint was filed by The Vaccine Center, which offers competitive immunization programs in Las Vegas.
Jennifer Sizemore, a Health District spokeswoman, said SNHD has not yet been served with the complaint. Sizemore said she could not comment on active litigation.
Codefendants in the complaint are the drug manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Apexus Inc., the manager of the federal 340 Prime Vendor Program, which was set up by Congress to serve as a safety net for the poor and indigent.
Although SNHD’s mission is to be a “safety-net” provider to the poor and indigent, it operates a commercial business that generates millions of dollars in revenue annually by competing against private clinics and doctors for immunization services to the adult, non-Medicaid population, the complaint says.
The complaint says SNHD buys its vaccines at sharply reduced prices from GlaxoSmithKline under the 340B Program.
SNHD is skirting the regulations of the program by reselling those cheaper vaccines intended for the poor to the general population at lower costs than its competitors — a violation of the laws governing the program, the complaint says.
“SNHD has been able to crush private-sector competition, drive private medical clinics and doctors out of business and monopolize markets for fee-based immunization services,” the complaint said.
The complaint says SNHD has entered into lucrative immunization contracts with MGM Resorts Health Plan, Sands Expo and Convention Center, Silver Nugget Gaming LLC, Boulder City and the Las Vegas Hilton.
The Vaccine Center claims it is the only major remaining competitor to SNHD and that is has suffered a substantial loss of business and revenue in excess of $75,000 at its two Las Vegas clinics. The Vaccine Center also claims it has lost the opportunity to expand elsewhere as a result of SNHD’s conduct.
The plaintiff is seeking triple damages, punitive damages and an injunction against the defendants.