By Andrew Longstreth
NEW YORK, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Four lawyers have been
appointed as interim lead counsel in a class action challenging
agreements to delay market entry of generic versions of
AstraZeneca's blockbuster heartburn drug Nexium.
In an order on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Young
in Boston named as interim co-lead counsel Steve Shadowen of
Hilliard & Shadowen; Jayne Goldstein of Shepherd, Finkelman,
Miller, & Shah; J. Douglas Richards of Cohen Milstein Sellers &
Toll; and Kenneth Wexler of Wexler Wallace.
Those attorneys will lead the case against AstraZeneca and
generic drug manufacturers Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals Inc, Teva
Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd and Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd.
Several suits have been filed alleging that AstraZenca paid the
other drug manufacturers to delay introduction of their generic
version of Nexium.
In exchange for the payments, the generics agreed to drop
their challenges of AstraZenca's Nexium patents. The settlements
violated antitrust laws, according to the plaintiffs.
The lead counsel appointed on Wednesday will represent a
class of indirect purchasers of Nexium who claim they paid more
for the drug due to the agreement to keep out generic versions.
Young also appointed an executive committee that will assist
the lead counsel. The members of that committee include Daniel
Girard of Girard Gibbs; Brian Penny of Goldman Scarlato Karon &
Penny; Joseph Guglielmo of Scott and Scott; Michael Buchman of
Pomerantz Grossman Hufford Dahlstrom & Gross; Thomas Shapiro of
Shapiro Haber & Urmy; and James Dugan of The Dugan Law Firm.
The litigation involving Nexium could turn on the outcome of
a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Last year the court
agreed to hear an appeal by the Federal Trade Commission, which
had challenged payments made by Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc, now
owned by Abbott Laboratories, to stop generic versions of
AndroGel, a treatment for the underproduction of testosterone,
The question before the Supreme Court is whether
pay-for-delay deals should be presumed to violate antitrust
laws. Oral argument has been scheduled for March 25.
The case is In re Nexium (Esomeprazole) Antitrust
Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, No.
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