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Sponsored-Science Case Against Becton Dickinson

CHICAGO (CN) - A lab that makes medical containers paid for a bogus study that linked its competition to higher infection rates, the competitor claims in a federal complaint.

"As with any competitive industry, there is a right way to compete, and there is a wrong one," the lawsuit filed on Oct. 29 by Daniels Sharpsmart claims.

Daniels says Becton, Dickinson and Co., a company with which it competes in the business of making containers for sharp medical waste, "chose the latter."

While Becton Dickinson makes disposable containers, Daniels' containers are reusable.

"In fact, the term 'reusable' has become synonymous with Daniels," the complaint states.

Daniels says reusable containers have been gaining more and more market share in a fiercely competitive industry.

Becton Dickinson in turn hired an investigator to show that hospitals using reusable containers have a higher rate of Clostridum difficile, a bacterial infection, according to the complaint.

"This professional sampled hospitals and inquired about one thing: the specific containers (disposables or reusables) that they used," the complaint states. "That is it. And based on this limited data, after applying them to known existing data regarding the hospitals' respective rates of C. diff."

Daniels says the investigator then published an article titled "The Relationship between Different Types of Sharps Containers and C. difficile Infection Rates in Acute Care Hospitals," in the American Journal of Infection Control.

"By its title alone, the article suggests that a relationship between the use of specific sharps containers (reusables) and the spread of C. diff in fact exists, when in reality C. diff spreads because of myriad reasons, such as wet, dirty, or improperly sanitized sharps containers (user error)," Daniels says. "Despite there being no evidence whatsoever showing a link between reusable sharps containers and C. diff, BD's funded study concludes as much. And this was all in an effort to deceptively market its own product - disposable sharps containers."

Becton Dickinson then circulated the article along with its marketing materials to Daniels' clients, according to the complaint.

"BD is knowingly disseminating misleading, deceitful, and untrue information about the reusable-sharps-container industry in an effort to gain an unfair competitive advantage within the broader sharps-container industry and against Daniels," the complaint states, abbreviating Becton Dickinson's name. "Meantime, Daniels' reputation within the marketplace has been tarnished, and it has had to expend considerable sums of money to combat BD's unlawful and unfair competition."

Daniels seeks damages for false advertising, deceptive trade practices, and unfair competition.

It is represented by Chistopher Heintskill with Levenfeld Pearlstein.

Becton Dickinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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