A federal judge has reversed a jury’s verdict, which had Gilead Sciences paying $200 million to Merck & Co. for patent infringement over a drug compound that cures hepatitis C. According to sources, the judge concluded that Merck was involved in misconduct while trying to obtain patents for hepatitis C drugs.
In March, the jury had originally awarded Merck $200 million after hearing R&D evidence of Pharmasset—a company Gilead bought in 2011. However, U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman reopened the case last month when Gilead offered additional evidence of Merck’s misconduct.
Judge Freeman’s new ruling was on account of new discoveries about a retired Merck scientist and lawyer. Fierce Pharma reports the following:
A retired Merck scientist and lawyer “intentionally fabricated testimony” about early discoveries that led to the development of next-generation hepatitis C drugs, including Gilead’s blockbuster duo, Harvoni and Sovaldi, the ruling states. And Merck supported the “bad faith conduct,” the judge said.
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal:
Judge Freeman largely sided with Gilead in her ruling on Monday, finding that Mr. Durette lied to Pharmasset by saying he wasn’t involved in Merck’s internal hepatitis C research, and that he subsequently lied about the 2004 conference call in a deposition and court testimony in the patent lawsuit.
“Since Merck made no contribution and assumed none of the risk in the discovery and development of sofosbuvir, we do not believe Merck is entitled to any amount of damages,” said Michele Rest, a Gilead spokeswoman. “We continue to believe the Merck patents are invalid.”
Merck says it plans to appeal.
To read Judge Freeman’s 65-page order, filed in federal court in San Jose, Calif., on Monday, click here.