Justia Drugs & Biotech Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Business Law
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Quidel Corporation (Quidel) petitioned for a writ of mandate and/or prohibition to direct the trial court to vacate its order granting summary adjudication. Quidel contended the trial court incorrectly concluded a provision in its contract with Beckman Coulter, Inc. (Beckman) was an invalid restraint on trade in violation of Business and Professions Code, section 16600. Quidel argued the trial court improperly extended the holding from Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP, 44 Cal.4th 937 (2008) beyond the employment context to a provision in the parties’ 2003 BNP Assay Agreement (the Agreement). In its original, published opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded it was not, granted the petition and issued a writ instructing the trial court to vacate the December 2018 order granting summary judgment on the first cause of action. The California Supreme Court then granted review of the Court of Appeal's opinion and ordered briefing deferred pending its decision in Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc., S256927. On August 3, 2020, the Supreme Court issued Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc., 9 Cal.5th 1130 (2020), which held “a rule of reason applies to determine the validity of a contractual provision by which a business is restrained from engaging in a lawful trade or business with another business.” The Quidel matter was transferred back to the Court of Appeals with directions to vacate its previous opinion and reconsider the case in light of Ixchel. The appellate court issued a new opinion in which it concluded the trial court’s decision was incorrect. The trial court was directed to vacate the December 7, 2018 order granting summary adjudication on the first cause of action. View "Quidel Corporation v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Granny Purps grows and provides medical marijuana to its 20,000 members, in compliance with state laws governing the production and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Santa Cruz County’s ordinance prohibits any medical cannabis operation from cultivating more than 99 plants; Granny’s dispensary was growing thousands of marijuana plants. The sheriff’s office went to the dispensary in June 2015, seized about 1,800 plants, and issued a notice of ordinance violation. Several months later, officers again went to the dispensary and took about 400 more marijuana plants. Granny sued, alleging conversion, trespass, and inverse condemnation and sought an order requiring the county to return the seized cannabis plants, The trial court dismissed.The court of appeal reversed. A government entity does not have to return seized property if the property itself is illegal but the Santa Cruz ordinance ultimately regulates land use within the county; it does not (nor could it) render illegal a substance that is legal under state law. View "Granny Purps, Inc. v. County of Santa Cruz" on Justia Law

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Quidel Corporation (Quidel) petitioned for a writ of mandate and/or prohibition to direct the trial court to vacate its order granting summary judgment. Quidel contended the trial court incorrectly concluded a provision in its contract with Beckman Coulter, Inc. (Beckman) was an invalid restraint on trade in violation of Business and Professions Code section 16600. In 1996, Biosite Inc. (Biosite; Quidel is the successor in interest to Biosite) licensed patent rights and know-how related to a B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), which can be measured in a person's blood. The semi-exclusive licensing agreement allowed Biosite to develop an immunoassay to determine the level of BNP in a person's blood sample, to help diagnose congestive heart failure. After acquiring the intellectual property rights and know-how, Biosite developed and created a BNP assay for use with its point-of-care analyzer device, and it obtained regulatory approval. By 2003, Beckman had developed a laboratory analyzer, but it did not have a license for a BNP assay compatible with its analyzer. Around this same time, other companies were also pursuing BNP assays for use with their larger analyzers, which could run multiple, different immunoassays at higher volumes than the point-of-care analyzer Biosite had. Collaborating would mean Biosite could expand its customer base to those who wanted to use the larger capacity laboratory analyzers and Beckman could include the BNP assay in its menu of immunoassay offerings. Biosite and Beckman negotiated the Agreement over several months, and they exchanged numerous drafts before executing it. The Agreement prohibited Biosite from engaging other manufacturers to provide the BNP assay for their competing lab analyzers. The term of the Agreement was negotiated to coincide with the term of a related licensing agreement Biosite had with another company, Scios. Section 5.2.3 of the Agreement prohibited Beckman from researching or developing an assay that detected the presence or absence of the BNP or NT-proBNP proteins or markers for use in diagnosing cardiac disease until two years before the Agreement's expiration. Beckman sued Quidel for declaratory relief for violation of section 16600 and violation of the Cartwright Act, asking the Court to declare section 5.2.3 of the Agreement was void and unenforceable and to issue a permanent injunction preventing the enforcement of section 5.2.3 of the Agreement. Quidel argued the trial court improperly extended the holding from Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP, 44 Cal.4th 937 (2008) beyond the employment context to section 5.2.3 of the Agreement. The Court of Appeal determined the trial court's per se application of section 16600 to section 5.2.3 of the Agreement between Quidel and Beckman was not correct, granted Quidel’s petition and issued a writ instructing the trial court to vacate the December 7, 2018 order granting summary adjudication on the first cause of action. View "Quidel Corporation v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Shire manufactured and marketed the lucrative drug Vancocin, which is used to treat a life-threatening gastrointestinal infection. After Shire learned that manufacturers were considering making generic equivalents to Vancocin, it inundated the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with allegedly meritless filings to delay approval of those generics. The FDA eventually rejected Shire’s filings and approved generic equivalents to Vancocin. The filings resulted in a high cost to consumers. Shire had delayed generic entry for years and reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. Nearly five years later, after Shire had divested itself of Vancocin, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed suit against Shire under Section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. 53(b), seeking a permanent injunction and restitution, and alleging that Shire’s petitioning was an unfair method of competition. The district court dismissed, finding that the FTC’s allegations of long-past petitioning activity failed to satisfy Section 13(b)’s requirement that Shire “is violating” or “is about to violate” the law. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting “the FTC’s invitation to stretch Section 13(b) beyond its clear text.” The FTC admits that Shire is not currently violating the law and did not allege that Shire is about to violate the law. View "Federal Trade Commission v. Shire ViroPharma Inc" on Justia Law

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Hi-Tech filed suit alleging that the label of a protein-powder supplement distributed by HBS misled customers about the quantity and quality of protein in each serving, violating both the Georgia Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the federal Lanham Act. The district court dismissed the complaint.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the state law claim because it was preempted by the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act (FDCA). However, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of the Lanham Act claim, and rejected HBS's arguments that the FDCA barred the claim under the Lanham Act. In this case, Hi-Tech's Lanham Act claim would only require a court to determine whether the protein-content representations on the HexaPro label were misleading to consumers in the context of the label's failure to specify the sources of the nitrogen measured by the federal test. Therefore, this inquiry would not require a court to interpret or apply the FDCA to determine whether or not the marketing of the supplement was deceptive. View "Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. HBS International Corp." on Justia Law

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Arla, a Denmark-based global dairy conglomerate, launched a $30 million advertising campaign aimed at expanding its U.S. cheese sales, branded “Live Unprocessed.” The ads assure consumers that Arla cheese contains no “weird stuff” or “ingredients that you can’t pronounce,” particularly, no milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine somatotropin (“rbST”), an artificial growth hormone. The flagship ad implies that milk from rbST-treated cows is unwholesome. Narrated by a seven-year-old girl, the ad depicts rbST as a cartoon monster with razor-sharp horns. Elanco makes the only FDA-approved rbST supplement. Elanco sued, alleging that the ads contain false and misleading statements in violation of the Lanham Act. Elanco provided scientific literature documenting rbST’s safety, and evidence that a major cheese producer had decreased its demand for rbST in response to the ads. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the issuance of a preliminary injunction, rejecting arguments that Elanco failed to produce consumer surveys or other reliable evidence of actual consumer confusion and did not submit adequate evidence linking the ad campaign to decreased demand for its rbST. Consumer surveys or other “hard” evidence of actual consumer confusion are unnecessary at the preliminary-injunction stage. The evidence of causation is sufficient at this stage: the harm is easily traced because Elanco manufactures the only FDA-approved rbST. The injunction is sufficiently definite and adequately supported by the record and the judge’s findings. View "Eli Lilly and Co. v. Arla Foods USA, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Fourth Corner Credit Union applied for a master account from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The Reserve Bank denied the application, effectively crippling the Credit Union’s business operations. The Credit Union sought an injunction requiring the Reserve Bank to issue it a master account. The district court dismissed the action, ruling that the Credit Union’s stated purpose, providing banking services to marijuana-related businesses, violated the Controlled Substances Act. The Tenth Circuit vacated the district court’s order and remanded with instructions to dismiss the amended complaint without prejudice. By remanding with instructions to dismiss the amended complaint without prejudice, the Court’s disposition effectuated the judgment of two of three panel members who would allow the Fourth Corner Credit Union to proceed with its claims. The Court denied the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s motion to strike the Fourth Corner Credit Union’s reply-brief addenda. View "Fourth Corner Credit Union v. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a shareholder derivative action on behalf of Medtronic, Inc., against current and former directors and officers of Medtronic, and against Medtronic as a nominal defendant. Plaintiff's complaint alleged various bad acts and false and misleading statements stemming from Medtronic's alleged improper promotion to physicians of the "off-label" use of its "Infuse" product. The district court dismissed the action based on a report by a special litigation committee (SLC). The court concluded that defendants' motion to terminate the litigation based on the SLC report could not be construed as a motion under Rule 12(b)(6) nor one arising under Rule 56; the court agreed with the district court and the Eleventh Circuit that the closest fit for a motion to terminate in the Federal Rules was Rule 23.1(c); the proper standard of review was for an abuse of the district court's discretion; the district court did not err in deferring to the SLC under Minnesota's business judgment rule (BJR) where the SLC possessed a disinterested independence, and the SLC's investigative methodologies and procedures were adequate, appropriate, and pursued in good faith; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying plaintiff's motion for discovery. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Kokocinski v. Collins, Jr." on Justia Law

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The People filed a complaint charging defendants with causing, aiding, and abetting the illegal delivery of marijuana. The trial court granted an injunction barring defendants from further developing or marketing their marijuana delivery app. At issue on appeal is whether Proposition D, L.A. Mun. Code, 45.19.6, which City voters enacted in 2013 to regulate medical marijuana businesses, generally prohibits the delivery of marijuana by vehicles. The court concluded that the City established a likelihood of proving defendants’ app caused, aided, or abetted the violation of Proposition D because, outside of the narrow exception for designated primary caregivers, it prohibits the vehicular delivery of medical marijuana to qualified participants, identification card holders, or primary caregivers in the City. Further, defendants’ opposition to the City’s unfair competition allegations necessarily fails because the City has demonstrated a likelihood of success on its claim that defendants facilitated a violation of Proposition D. In this case, defendants made no showing at all concerning the balance of hardships, much less that the balance tipped sharply in their favor. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court's judgment. View "People v. Nestdrop, LLC" on Justia Law

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In 2012 Schmidt, a former shareholder in Genaera, a biotechnology company that dissolved in 2009 and liquidated its assets, brought suit on behalf of himself and other former shareholders against the liquidating trustee (Argyce); the Genaera Liquidating Trust; Argyce’s CEO and Genaera’s former CFO; former major Genaera shareholders Xmark and BVF; former Genara directors and officers (D&O defendants); and the purchasers of certain Genaera assets. The complaint alleged that the liquidating trustee and the D&O defendants breached their fiduciary duties by disposing of promising drug technologies in tainted insider deals for far less than their true value and that Xmark and BVF aided and abetted this behavior so that companies they controlled could acquire Genaera’s assets at fire sale prices. Schmidt did not dispute the applicability of the two-year statute of limitations and that he filed suit more than two years after the assets were sold, but argued that the limitations period should be tolled under Pennsylvania’s discovery rule because he could not have been aware of the insider nature of the sales or that the assets were sold for below actual value until he learned the details of the sales, and subsequent market events suggested to him that the assets were quite valuable. The district court dismissed. The Third Circuit reversed in part, stating that it was premature to determine whether Schmidt exercised reasonable diligence. View "Schmidt v. Skolas" on Justia Law