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Gilead prevails in $3.6 billion antitrust trial over HIV meds

Post Time:2023-07-10 Source:courthousenews Author: Views:

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences triumphed over consumers Friday in a closely watched, yearslong class action that claimed the company deliberately manipulated the market in order to profit off of its highly-priced HIV treatment drugs. 

Closing arguments in a six-week trial wrapped Wednesday, leaving a federal jury to consider weeks of evidence regarding the pharmaceutical giant’s conduct and deal with Israeli generic drugmaker Teva. A group of customers brought more than a dozen claims of anticompetitive and anti-consumer practices, and accused Gilead of a "long-running scheme" to restrain competition for Tenofovir, part of the antiretroviral therapy treatment regimen used to treat HIV.

Asked to decide whether the company brokered a deal with Teva to slow the entry of generic versions of the drugs to the market, the jury ruled in Gilead’s favor. California’s Northern District Court had not filed the jury verdict documents for public reference by press time. 

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen, a Barack Obama appointee, told jurors Monday that the case is "in a sense a patent case wrapped in an antitrust case,” and wanted them to follow instructions for handling patent cases as well as for antitrust cases when coming to a verdict.

Plaintiffs had to meet their burden of proof to show that Gilead’s conduct caused anticompetitive effects that outweighed any and all pro-competitive effects, and that it paid Teva to do so. The jury decided they failed on both claims — affirming a 2014 patent settlement between Gilead and Teva, and finding that it did not violate antitrust laws and was not a reverse payment. 

Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not respond to a request for comment before press time. 

Gilead’s legal counsel, law firms Kirkland and Proskauer, called the case a “huge win for innovation and competition in the pharmaceutical industry" in a statement released Friday.

Lawyers said this is the third “pay for delay” antitrust case ever to go to verdict, among more than 30 such cases filed in 13 years. 

“Most companies would not have had the stomach to place their fate in the hands of a jury with that much on the line,” Gilead said. 

"The fact that this trial took place in San Francisco, a city deeply scarred by the AIDS epidemic, heightened the case’s emotional angle. Indeed, AIDS advocates regularly protested outside of Gilead’s San Francisco headquarters during the course of this litigation. Gilead’s victory sends a resounding message to the antitrust bar that pharmaceutical companies can win these cases.”