DOJ investigating Baxter for possible price collusion during saline shortages

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether Deerfield, Ill.-based Baxter International colluded with other saline and drug manufacturers to create fake supply shortages to profit from raised prices, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Here are four things to know.

1. Saline solution has been in short supply since 2014, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

2. In 2015, a bipartisan group of senators called on the Federal Trade Commission to explore whether saline manufacturers took advantage of the saline shortage to raise prices as much as 200 percent to 300 percent since late 2013, reports the Chicago Tribune. As of April, the FTC had not filed a complaint on the issue.

3. A federal court in April subpoenaed Baxter and an employee to provide documents and testify about the pricing, sale, manufacturing and shortage of intravenous solutions — including saline solution. The subpoena, issued on behalf of the DOJ's antitrust division, also requests documents showing Baxter's interactions with competing companies regarding the shortage, according to the Chicago Tribune.

4. Baxter acknowledged the investigation in its most recent quarterly report filed with the SEC and said it is cooperating with the investigation.

"Baxter has remained a continuous supplier of IV solutions and has made extraordinary efforts to maximize the availability of these critical products, including investments to both improve manufacturing capacity and increase supply to ensure patients can receive the therapies they need," the drugmaker told the Chicago Tribune in April.

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