Jefferson County Pharmaceutical Assn., Inc. v. Abbott Laboratories

PETITIONER: Jefferson County Pharmaceutical Assn., Inc.
RESPONDENT: Abbott Laboratories
LOCATION: Family Court of Ulster County

DOCKET NO.: 81-827
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

CITATION: 460 US 150 (1983)
ARGUED: Nov 08, 1982
DECIDED: Feb 23, 1983

ADVOCATES:
David Klingsberg - on behalf of Respondent
Joe L. Tucker, Jr. - on behalf of Petitioner

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Jefferson County Pharmaceutical Assn., Inc. v. Abbott Laboratories

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 08, 1982 in Jefferson County Pharmaceutical Assn., Inc. v. Abbott Laboratories

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 23, 1983 in Jefferson County Pharmaceutical Assn., Inc. v. Abbott Laboratories

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

The next decision that I have to bring is 81-827, Jefferson County Pharmaceutical Association against the Abbott Laboratories.

The question presented is whether the sale of pharmaceutical products to a State for resale and competition with private retail pharmacies is exempt from the principles of the Robinson-Patman Act.

The petitioner, a trade association of retail pharmacies in Alabama, filed this action.

Respondent, pharmaceutical manufacturers are alleged to sell their products to the State at prices lower than those charged private pharmacies.

Both the District Court and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the state purchases, whether for resale or not, are exempt from the Robinson-Patman Act.

The language of that Act contains no such exemption.

The legislative history is essentially silent on the question.

The Act is a component of the antitrust laws.

Our case has repeatedly have held that a strong presumption exist against the implying exemptions for such laws.

Moreover, a purpose of the Act was to protect small retailers from the ability of larger organizations to obtain discriminatory prices.

Accordingly, we reverse the decision below.

We make clear, however, that our holding is limited to sales where the product is resold by the State or by a state agency in competition with private retailers.

Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion.

Justice O'Connor also has filed a dissenting opinion in which Justices Brennan, Rehnquist, and Stevens have joined.