By Alex Lawson for Law360.com
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litigation on Tuesday agreed to consolidate in Massachusetts federal court a dozen proposed class actions accusing Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. and other drugmakers of colluding to keep a generic version of the acne medication Solodyn off the market.
While the plaintiffs all agreed that consolidation was appropriate, they differed on the best location for the suits. In a brief order, the panel transferred the 12 cases to the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Denise J. Casper in Massachusetts.
Each of the suits alleges that Medicis and other companies have violated federal and state antitrust laws in blocking a generic Solodyn® drug by filing sham patent litigation and engineering reverse payment deals, among other methods, providing enough common ground to centralize the suits.
"On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing session held, we find that these actions involve common questions of fact, and that centralization … in the District of Massachusetts will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of this litigation," the panel said.
Each of the dozen putative class actions cropped up last year, with many filed by labor unions such as the United Food & Commercial Workers.
In that suit, the union alleged that Medicis improperly claimed it was entitled to have the U.S. Food and Drug Administration delay approval of abbreviated new drug applications for generic versions of the minocycline hydrochloride-based drug, and that the pharmaceutical company had executed unlawful deals with competitors to keep them from bringing versions of the medication to market.
The decision to move the disputes into Massachusetts is something of a defeat for Medicis and the other defendants, which told the panel that they preferred for the cases to be heard in Arizona or, alternatively, Pennsylvania.
Massachusetts is the originating court for three of the suits, compared to eight for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Just one of the cases was filed in Arizona. The panel said that, given the fact that the drug in question has been circulated across the nation, any number of district courts could have served as the transferee district.
"On balance, we conclude that the District of Massachusetts is an appropriate transferee district for this litigation," the panel wrote. "This district offers a forum that is both convenient and accessible for the parties and witnesses, particularly for the numerous defendants that are based along the East Coast."
An attorney for Medicis declined to comment on the case Wednesday.
The drugmakers are represented by Alston & Bird LLP, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, Pepper Hamilton LLP, Looney & Grossman LLP, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and O'Melveny & Myers LLP, among others.
Up-to-date counsel information for the plaintiffs was not immediately available Wednesday.
The consolidated case is In Re Solodyn (Minocycline Hydrochloride) Antitrust Litigation, case number 1:14-md-02503, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
--Additional reporting by Matt Fair. Editing by Philip Shea.
Original Source: Law360.com
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