Jury Nails J&J With $482 Million Patent Infringement Verdict: Biotech's Latest Tribulations

by: The Burrill Report

A federal jury in Marshall, Texas said Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and its subsidiary Cordis should pay a $482 million verdict for infringing on a patent held by Bruce Saffran, according to Saffran’s attorneys Dickstein Shapiro. The jury found that the patent was valid and the company willfully infringed. In January 2008, Saffran won a $432 million verdict from another federal jury against Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX), which the jury said infringed Saffran’s patent with its drug-eluting cardiac stent.

A hedge fund is calling for Actelion (OTCPK:ALIOF) CEO Jean-Paul Clozel to step down and for the company to consider a possible sale, Reuters reported. The push from Elliott Advisors helped drive the Swiss biotech up 4 percent in trading. The hedge fund said Clozel’s resistance to a sale and effort to keep the company independent is not in the best interest of shareholders.

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) said it settled a lawsuit that charged the company’s diabetes drug Avandia caused a North Carolina man to die of a heart attack, Bloomberg reported. The company did not disclose details of the settlement, which came as the case was about to begin a jury trial. The family of James Burford, an Avandia user who died in 2006, filed the suit. Bloomberg, quoting an industry analyst, said the company has already agreed to pay almost half a billion dollars to resolve claims relating to Avandia. In an e-mailed statement the company told Bloomberg it settled the case to avoid the cost of litigation. In January, GSK said it would take a $3.5 billion charge to cover expenses to investigations and litigation relating to Avandia.

A U.S. District Court judge in Boston has tripled a jury award to Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospital after finding Pfizer’s (NYSE:PFE) illegal promotion of the epilepsy drug Neurontin for unapproved uses under a provision of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, Bloomberg reported. The judge awarded Kaiser $142.1 million in the case. Kaiser said the drug giant led it to believe that Neurontin was an effective treatment for migraines and bipolar disorder. It claimed it spent $90 million more on the drug than it should have. The company said it intends to appeal the ruling.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Teva Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:TEVA) of problems at its Jerusalem manufacturing facility following a 2010 inspection, Reuters reported. The FDA cited deficiencies related to laboratory reporting and systems in a letter to the company. The FDA inspected the plant in September 2010. Teva said it believed it has addressed the observations and has been working to resolve FDA concerns listed in the warning letter. If the FDA deems the problems have not been corrected, it could withhold approval of pending drug applications that list the Jerusalem facility. It could also withhold permission to export products manufactured at the facility into the United States, the FDA said.