In December 2016, Mars Petcare, Nestle Purina, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, PetSmart and veterinary services providers were presented with a class action lawsuit over prescription pet foods, but a pet food industry consultant said the legal action lacks a foundation.
“The lawyers do not understand the nuances of selling pet foods, particularly therapeutic versus over the counter,” Ryan Yamka, PhD, of Luna Science and Nutrition, told Petfood Industry.
Details of the prescription pet food lawsuit
Specifically, the plaintiffs called out Hill’s Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet and Iams Veterinary Formula. They also noted that Mars and PetSmart own co-defendant Banfield Pet Hospital, and that Mars own co-defendant Blue Pearl Vet Hospital.
The plaintiffs claimed that those pet food businesses charged consumers more than was justified for certain foods by making those foods available only by prescription. The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court of Northern California (Case number 3:16-cv-7001).
The prescription pet foods lawsuit case document argues that American consumers reasonably expect prescription requirements to imply that a substance is medically necessary, contains a drug, medicine or controlled ingredient, has been FDA evaluated, and legally requires a prescription. The plaintiffs alleged that these prescription dog and cat foods contain no drugs or ingredients not found in conventional formulations.
Prescription versus therapeutic pet foods
However, Yamka noted that nearly all formulas sold through prescriptions were technically therapeutic dog and cat foods. Only Hill’s Pet Nutrition makes diets trademarked as prescription formulas.