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Billions of prescriptions are filled electronically every year. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

A small pharmacy in New York has filed a class-action lawsuit against Surescripts, alleging that the company conspired with other health technology vendors to keep monopoly control over the market for electronically filled prescriptions.

The big picture: Antitrust litigation is piling up quickly against Surescripts, as the company's customers and federal regulators alike believe it has locked competitors out of a space that has become necessary to fill four out of five drug prescriptions.

Between the lines: A lot of the lawsuit, filed by Falconer Pharmacy, builds on allegations from the Federal Trade Commission and Amazon.

  • Namely, it says Surescripts has forced pharmacies and vendors to use only its electronic prescribing network at noncompetitive rates, or else face even higher prices as "non-loyal" customers.
  • Falconer Pharmacy said in the complaint that it pays "at least 17 cents per routing transaction," but Surescripts has previously revealed that more competitive prices would be between one and three cents per transaction.

But, but, but: The lawsuit goes one step further, naming technology vendors RelayHealth (part of McKesson) and Allscripts as co-conspirators.

  • RelayHealth and Allscripts signed contracts that forced them to use Surescripts exclusively, but Surescripts passed along incentive payments to them in return, according to the complaint.
  • McKesson and Allscripts did not immediately respond for comment.

Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton said the company is "disappointed in the allegations."

  • "We take seriously our role in helping serve patients and the people who care for them, and we remain confident that our business practices support that goal.”

The bottom line: Surescripts is one of the most obvious monopolies in health care. The increasing legal heat raises questions about whether regulators and policymakers would advocate for breaking up the company or mandating price concessions.

Editor's note: This post has been updated to note RelayHealth's pharmacy business remains part of McKesson, not Change Healthcare.

Go deeper

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress hunts for shortcut to pass defense funding, debt limit combo

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to his office Monday. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The scramble in Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act is being complicated by an effort to tie it to a needed hike in the federal debt limit.

Why it matters: The House and Senate are rapidly coming up against a series of deadlines they must address before the end of the year — or risk disrupting crucial military funding and upending the economy. Congressional leaders are now hoping they can knock out both "must-pass" priorities in one, complex swoop.

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