by Dennis Crouch
An interesting False Claims Act case has recently been unsealed. USA ex rel. Lower Drug Prices for Consumers (LDPFC) v. Allergan and Forest Labs., Case No. 16-cv-09 (E.D.Tex. 2016) (SEALED USA Complaint).
The False Claims Act provides special incentives for whistleblowers to uncover fraud against the U.S. Government. The Act authorizes the whistleblower to file a qui tam lawsuit on behalf of the Government and then receive a cut of any recovered damages. See 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–3733. The whistleblower here LDPFC appears to be a branch of the hedge fund Foxhill Capital.
This case involves Allergan/Forrest Labs U.S. Patent No. 6,545,040 that is listed in the FDA Orange Book as covering the drug Bystolic. The basic false claims argument is that the market price of Bystolic is high because of the patent coverage – but the patent is (allegedly) invalid. If true, this means that Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA hospitals are all paying more than they should for the drug. As stated by the complaint: “The current market price for Nebivolol (Bystolic) is a false price because the ‘040 patent is invalid.”
Although the legal theory makes sense, the facts may get in the way: Is the patent invalid (PTAB says its close, but no) and, if it is invalid – did the patentee have knowledge of the invalidity?