Antitrust & Intellectual Property

Cipro Cases I and II

Cipro Cases I and II, JCCP Nos. 4154 and 4220 (Cal. Supr. Ct.).

Lieff Cabraser represented California consumers and third party payors in a class action lawsuit filed in California state court charging that Bayer Corporation, Barr Laboratories, and other generic prescription drug manufacturers conspired to restrain competition in the sale of Bayer’s blockbuster antibiotic drug Ciprofloxacin, sold as Cipro. Between 1997 and 2003, Bayer paid its would-be generic drug competitors nearly $400 million to refrain from selling more affordable versions of Cipro. As a result, consumers were forced to pay inflated prices for the drug — frequently prescribed to treat urinary tract, prostate, abdominal, and other infections.

The trial court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, which the California Court of Appeal affirmed in October 2011. Plaintiffs sought review before the California Supreme Court. Following briefing, the case was stayed pending the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in FTC v. Actavis. After the U.S. Supreme Court in Actavis overturned lower federal court precedent that pay-for-delay deals in the pharmaceutical industry are generally legal, plaintiffs and Bayer entered into settlement negotiations. In November 2013, the Trial Court approved a $74 million settlement with Bayer.

On May 7, 2015, the California Supreme Court reversed the grant of summary judgment to Defendants and resoundingly endorsed the rights of consumers to challenge pharmaceutical pay-for-delay settlements under California competition law. Working to the brink of trial, the plaintiffs reached additional settlements with the remaining defendants, bringing the total recovery to $399 million (exceeding plaintiffs’ damages estimate by approximately $68 million), a result the trial court described as “extraordinary.” The trial court granted final approval on April 21, 2017, adding that it was “not aware of any case” that “has taken roughly 17 years,” where, net of fees, end-payor “claimants will get basically 100 cents on the dollar[.]”

In 2017, the American Antitrust Institute honored Lieff Cabraser’s Cipro team with its Outstanding Private Practice Antitrust Achievement Award for their extraordinary work on the Cipro price-fixing and exclusionary drug-pricing agreements case. In addition, their work on the Cipro case led Lieff Cabraser partners Eric B. Fastiff, Brendan P. Glackin, and Dean M. Harvey to recognition by California Lawyer and the Daily Journal with a 2016 California Lawyer of the Year Award.