Our first-runners-up this week are lawyers from Kirkland & Ellis, Sidley Austin, White & Case and Baker Botts who got a major win to stand up in one of the first antitrust cases involving biologic drugs. In particular, the case involved AbbVie’s blockbuster immunosuppressive Humira, which generated more than $20 billion in revenue in 2021. The Seventh Circuit this week upheld dismissal of antitrust claims related to patent-litigation settlements AbbVie reached with Amgen Inc., Samsung Bioepis Co. Ltd., and Sandoz Inc. The appellate court found that the settlements, which gave the biosimilar makers earlier access to the European market, did not provide any improper reverse payments. The court also took no issue with AbbVie’s 132 patents protecting the drug, which plaintiffs had argued constituted a “patent thicket” that violated Section 2 of the Sherman Act. “But what’s wrong with having lots of patents? If AbbVie made 132 inventions, why can’t it hold 132 patents?” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote. “The patent laws do not set a cap on the number of patents any one person can hold—in general, or pertaining to a single subject.” The Kirkland team representing AbbVie was led by Jim Hurst and Diana Watral with help from Brandon Stone. Sidley Austin partners Bruce Braun and Steven Horowitz as well as senior managing associate Naomi Igra represented Amgen. A team including Martin Toto from White & Case represented Samsung Bioepis. Stephen Weissman and Michael Perry of Baker Botts represented Sandoz.
A team at Covington & Burling gets a runner-up nod for winning summary judgment this week for AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb in nearly 250 cases in the federal MDL targeting the companies with claims that diabetes medication Onglyza can lead to heart failure and other cardiovascular problems. Following the Covington team’s win excluding the plaintiffs’ general causation expert, U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell in Lexington, Kentucky, found plaintiffs lacked causation evidence and refused to reopen discovery to allow them to find another expert. The win in the federal MDL follows a similar victory in proceedings in California state court. The Covington team included Emily Ullman, David Snead, Kathleen Paley, Phyllis Jones, Paul Schmidt, Lauren Dorris, Elizabeth Ertle and Tara Summerville.