Pet Supplies Cataloger Shakes Off Lawsuit

Pet supplies cataloger Doctors Foster & Smith professes not to be concerned about being sued by Novartis Animal Health U.S. In a suit filed on March 22, Greensboro, NC-based Novartis, a manufacturer of pet medications, accused the Rhinelander, WI-based cataloger, along with online pet products marketers Petmed Express and Savemax, of selling European versions of its drugs whose packaging and instructions do not comply with U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.

Dr. Race Foster, cofounder/vice president of Doctors Foster & Smith, says that his company buys Novartis from legitimate distributors, some of whom import the foreign-labeled products mentioned in the suit. “We buy from an American distributor who happened to have some of the foreign packaged products in its supply chain,” Foster says. The cataloger has since changed distributors, and has its fulfillment staff on alert to watch for any more Novartis containers coming into the warehouse with foreign labels. None have entered the company’s fulfillment center since the beginning of the year. Novartis medications account for 0.05% of the catalog’s sales.

Foster says he has no plans to countersue, even though he feels Novartis has come after the wrong company. “I’m not sure why Novartis isn’t suing only the distributors,” he says.

Eric Pomerantz, Novartis’s vice president/general counsel, can tell you why: With hundreds of veterinary products distributors in the U.S., “we wouldn’t know who to go after.” Pomerantz notes that his company was unaware that domestic distributors have allegedly been getting their hands on Novartis drugs with foreign labels.

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