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Life Sciences Companies Spent Record Amount on Lobbying Efforts in 2007

Written by on Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

The Baltimore Business Journal is reporting that life sciences companies spent a record amount on lobbying efforts in 2007–some 32 percent more in 2007 than in 2006.

The Baltimore Business Journal reported:

The industry unleashed a $168 million lobbying effort last year, the largest among all sectors and 90 percent of which was dominated by three biotech and pharmaceutical trade groups and 40 global companies. . . . Among top company spenders were British-based AstraZeneca PLC, which owns Gaithersburg-based MedImmune and tallied $4.1 million in lobbying efforts, and Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals, which owns Rockville-based CoGenesys and tallied $2.3 million. Amgen Inc., based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., topped the company list with a $16.3 million total contribution last year.

As the California Biotech Law Blog previously reported, BIO spent $6.6 million in lobbying efforts in 2007.

According to The Baltimore Business Journal, the industry’s investment seems to “have paid off.”

Was the investment really dollars well spent?  Well, clearly the industry has had some success with respect to delaying the passage of patent reform legislation, which was largely viewed as being more favorable to high tech companies than biotech companies.  Likewise, the lobbying efforts seem to have had some success in the SBIR area, as we previously reported in a recent blog posting.  So, the industry has definitely seen some success in Washington this past year, although that success has not been felt uniformly across the board.

There is no doubt that having a voice in Washington is taking on increasing importance for the life sciences industry, particularly in light of the lobbying efforts of the technology world.  It seems likely that the industry’s investment in lobbying will continue to grow in the near future, as the topic of health care reform continues to be a key political issue and the interests of technology and life sciences companies continue to diverge.  As I’ve suggested before, however, it is rather stunning to consider how much money that has to be invested these days in order to maintain a presence in Washington politics: $168 million is certainly not pocket change.

Category: Biotech Industry News, Biotech Legislative Developments  |  Comments Off on Life Sciences Companies Spent Record Amount on Lobbying Efforts in 2007

MedImmune Settles Dispute with Genentech

Written by on Saturday, May 31st, 2008

Following up on our May 30, 2007 posting, MedImmune has finally settled its lawsuit with Genentech over a patented component of Synagis, MedImmune’s best-selling drug, which is aimed at preventing respiratory infections in infants, according to a report by the Washington Post.  The settlement comes just over a year after the Supreme Court decision was issued allowing MedImmune to challenge the validity of the Genentech patent while continuing to pay royalties incurred in a license agreement with Genentech. 

No details of the settlement have been released thus far; however, the parties are reported to be filing a stipulation of dismissal in the next few weeks.

Category: Biotech Disputes, Biotech Legal Disputes  |  Comments Off on MedImmune Settles Dispute with Genentech

Billionaire Investor Carl Icahn Files Suit Against Biogen

Written by on Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Billionaire Investor Carl Icahn has filed suit against Biogen in a Delaware chancery court in order to force Biogen to turn over documents related to its failed sale of the company last year, according to a Reuters.  Biogen was reported by Delaware Online to have lost $5 billion in market value as a result of its decision to abandon its plan to sell the company.  Icahn is a major investor in Biogen, owning shares valued at $650 million, according to Delaware Online.

Reuters described Icahn’s complaint as follows:

[In his complaint] Icahn demanded the right to inspect documents and board meeting minutes to determine what the board of directors knew about the sale process, which Icahn claims Biogen deliberately sabotaged.  According to the complaint, Icahn and his associates are demanding the documents in order to alert shareholders to any non-confidential information they discover about the performance of the board.

Xconomy provided some additional insight on the complaint as well:

Icahn’s complaint, filed in Delaware Chancery Court, repeats his earlier accusations that the confidentiality agreements prospective buyers were required to sign before they could talk to two key Biogen partners, Elan Pharmaceuticals and Genentech, were too restrictive. Both companies hold some change-of-control rights on key Biogen drugs—Elan on the multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease drug Tysabri, and Genentech on cancer-fighting Rituxan. Biogen’s restrictions on how suitors could talk to the companies, Reuters said Icahn charged in the complaint, “prevented any potential bidders from learning where Biogen’s third-party partners stood on exercising change-of-control options on key Biogen drugs.”

Biogen refused to hand over the documents when requested by Icahn on March 28th–a move which prompted the filing of the complaint.  Xconomy reported on the reasons Biogen has given for its refusal:

Biogen refused to hand over the information that Icahn demanded in part because CEO Jim Mullen and the company already shared much of it at a JP Morgan conference in early January. . . .  What’s more. . . .Icahn himself was a potential bidder on the company, and has already received much of the information he’s now seeking. “He has the information he says he’s looking for,” [says Naomi Aoki, a spokeswoman for Biogen], To disclose anything beyond what is already disclosed, which would include confidential internal documents, “we believe would compromise and negatively affect our ability to maximize value for shareholders in any future sale process,” she said.

So, you might wonder: who exactly is this billionaire investor Carl Icahn?  The Boston Globe ran a good story on Icahn last August, which provides some background on Icahn and context to his fight with Biogen:

Icahn . . . . might be best known as a corporate raider who piloted TWA in 1985 and tried to grab Nabisco in 1996, often buys large stakes in companies and pushes them to make changes or find a buyer. Icahn, a former medical student, has also shown increasing interest in rattling the cages of biotechs and drug makers. He gradually accumulated shares in ImClone Systems, Inc.., a cancer drug developer in New York linked to the Martha Stewart insider trading scandal. Last year, Icahn finally took control of the company after a raucous shareholder battle and vowed to install his own management team.

In February, Icahn revealed he had taken a 1 percent stake in MedImmune, Inc., one of the country’s largest biotech firms. Shortly afterward, he threatened to start a shareholder fight to force the sale of the Maryland company, complaining about its "lackluster" performance. In April, MedImmune agreed to sell itself to drug maker AstraZeneca PLC for $15.6 billion. . . .Not all of his moves have paid off. In late 2004, Icahn disclosed he became the biggest shareholder in Blockbuster, Inc. and quickly pushed for changes at the movie rental chain to compete with online competition like Netflix, Inc. Since then, Blockbuster’s stock has fallen from about $10 a share to less than $5.

I have not had the opportunity to review a copy of Icahn’s complaint, but based on the reporting, it appears that the sole justification for this lawsuit is to obtain documents.  It would be interesting to know what other claims, if any, are included in the complaint. 

Will this suit succeed in forcing Biogen to be put up for sale once more?  It seems very unlikely.  So, what is Icahn going to accomplish by this lawsuit?  While it is possible he will obtain the documents he is seeking, it is difficult to come up with any other real benefits that could result from his action.  Is he hoping to come up with evidence of wrongdoing in order to take corporate decisionmakers on at an individual level? Or is this merely an act of aggression to encourage compliance with his wishes?

In all honesty, this suit leaves me scratching my head a bit.  We will follow how it develops at the California Biotech Law Blog and keep you posted, as I am certain that many of you in the biotech world will want to take notes on Carl Icahn’s activites.  The knowledge will likely be useful if and when he ever invests in your biotech company. 

Category: Biotech Disputes, Biotech Legal Disputes  |  Comments Off on Billionaire Investor Carl Icahn Files Suit Against Biogen

Another Look at MedImmune v. Genentech

Written by on Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

The Medimmune v. Genentech case has received extensive media coverage since the Supreme Court decision earlier this year, but if you still have questions about the case and its anticipated impact, you should check out the recap published on IP Frontline by attorney Dennis Fernandez and college student Brian Bensch.

In their article "The Impact of MedImmune v. Genentech," the authors describe the potential implications of MedImmune as follows:

The major implication of MedImmune is that potential and current licensees will find it incredibly easier to file a declaratory judgment action. . . . After MedImmune, licensees will be able to recklessly challenge contracts knowing that the worst possible consequence is that the contract is upheld. . . .

[T]he implications of MedImmune are already taking shape. Since the MedImmune ruling only four months ago, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has begun to clarify the impact of MedImmune by dropping the "reasonable apprehension" clause of its subject matter jurisdiction test in its decision in SanDisk Corporation v. STMicroelectronics, Inc. . . .

 [I]n its decision on March 26 of this year, the CAFC established a new test that "holds that "where a patentee asserts rights under a patent based on certain identified ongoing or planned activity of another party, and where that party contends that it has the right to engage in the accused activity without license," the party may bring a declaratory judgment action."

In the end, the authors conclude that the impact of the ruling will be as follows:

[T]he Supreme Court’s MedImmune decision weakened the stability of both future and current licensing agreements. While the federal circuit’s precedent had been rather unambiguous, the Supreme Court accepted the circularly reasoning and exaggerated risk claimed by MedImmune and allowed it to file for declaratory judgment relief against its licensor without first ending their licensing agreement. The decision gives a blank check to licensees to challenge their licensor on patent invalidity charges if they feel they have any chance at success.

As a licensing attorney looking at this case and the subsequent San Disk ruling, I can’t help but wonder if the impact of these decisions is really going to be as severe as legal commentators are predicting.  While certainly this line of cases enables licensees to challenge licenses more easily, I question whether this will really happen with the kind of frequency you might expect from the commentary.  Is it possible that they are looking at these cases from litigator’s perspective rather than considering the business realities that would often caution against souring an otherwise cordial business relationship?

The vast majority of licensing negotiations are not done at the end of a big stick, and that there are generally sound business reasons to maintain a good relationship with the other side of the negotiating table.  While it is true that these cases make it easier for licensees to challenge a licensing relationship, I question whether it will make good business sense for licensees to do so as frequently as it has been suggested they will do.  Will licensors really want to do deals with licensees who have challenged other licensing agreements with third parties?  Will licensors really want to develop relationships with licensees who have challenged  other licensing arrangements with prior licensors? 

In the end, I suspect that the application of these cases will depend largely on the realities of the business world.  I find it hard to believe that regularly challenging license agreements will ultimately prove to be a good business strategy as the dust settles on these decisions.  I anticipate that in the end declaratory judgments will be used a little more judiciously to challenge relationships that have already soured, in much the same way that litigation and the threat of litigation have been used prior to the MedImmune ruling.  When a relationship can be managed outside of the courtroom, I continue to believe that, despite the hype to the contrary, the average licensee is going to stick with negotiation and stay away from the courts. 






Category: Biotech Disputes, Biotech Legal Disputes, Biotech Patent Licensing  |  Comments Off on Another Look at MedImmune v. Genentech

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