Powerhouse plaintiffs lawyers and BigLaw brawlers are set for a rowdy antitrust battle over AbbVie’s alleged scheme to protect the market for its immunosuppressant Humira, the world’s best-selling drug, by cultivating an impenetrable “patent thicket” and engaging in devious horse-trading with biosimilar makers.
In an order Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah consolidated a dozen proposed class actions that are leveling potentially groundbreaking attacks on patenting practices and "pay-for-delay" deals in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition to AbbVie Inc., defendant drugmakers include Amgen Inc., Pfizer Inc., Sandoz Inc., Mylan Inc., Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc., Samsung Bioepis Co. Ltd. and Fresenius Kabi USA LLC.
All of the lawsuits were filed in Chicago, a stone's throw from AbbVie's headquarters. Judge Shah's order noted that each suit asserts “that AbbVie and other pharmaceutical companies engaged in anti-competitive conduct centered around AbbVie’s actions with its drug Humira,” which last year earned $20 billion globally and almost $14 billion domestically.
The same order approved a triumvirate of lead lawyers and a six-person executive committee that collectively boast some of the plaintiffs bar’s brightest antitrust stars. On the other side is a murderers’ row of defense heavyweights who have left lasting marks in many areas of antitrust and intellectual property law.
The plaintiffs' lead lawyers are all women, and the executive committee is co-chaired by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC partner Sharon Robertson, who was described in a recent court filing as “among the few female litigators to secure leadership roles” in major multidistrict litigation fights and “litigate multiple antitrust suits to a trial verdict.”
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