A recently-published report from NERA Economic Consulting provides a mid-year look back at securities class actions and demonstrates the continued focus by the plaintiffs’ securities litigation bar on health care and life science firms, particularly those focused on the development and commercialization of drugs and devices.

The report found that approximately half of all COVID-19-related securities class action suits filed between March and June of 2020 were filed against defendants in the Health Technology and Services and in the Electronic Technology and Technology Services sectors. Looking more broadly, the report found that excluding merger objections, the Health Technology and Services sector accounted for 18% of all filings for the first half of the year.

The report makes clear that pharmaceutical, healthcare, and biotechnology firms will likely continue to face disproportionate rates of securities litigation filings, including filings related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The entire report is available at:  https://www.nera.com/publications/archive/2020/recent-trends-in-securities-class-action-litigation–h1-2020-upd.html.

Shanawaz v. Intellipharmaceutics Int’l Inc., No. 17-CV-5761 (JPO) (S.D.N.Y. July 30, 2020)

On July 30, 2020, Judge J. Paul Oetken of the Southern District of New York preliminarily approved a settlement in a putative shareholder class action concerning development of an OxyContin alternative, Rexista.  The parties agreed to a settlement amount of $1.6 million.

As discussed in a previous post, in December 2018, Judge Oetken granted defendants’ motion to dismiss allegations with respect to statements regarding Rexista’s bioequivalence to OxyCotin and statements regarding Rexista’s abuse-deterrent features as disputes over the interpretation of data.  However, the Court found that plaintiffs adequately alleged a claim that defendants misrepresented the contents of Rexista’s New Drug Application as including studies it did not include.

The settlement fairness hearing is currently scheduled for December 4, 2020.

Skiadas v. Acer Therapeutics Inc., 2020 WL 3268495 (S.D.N.Y. June 16, 2020)

On June 16, 2020, Judge Gregory Woods of the Southern District of New York granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss an action against Acer Therapeutics Inc. and certain of its executives regarding disclosures made in offering documents prior to the Company’s submission of a New Drug Application (“NDA”) for EDSIVO, a drug that treats Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (“vEDS”).  Plaintiff allege that when the FDA declined to approve the drug, Acer’s stock dropped.

Continue Reading S.D.N.Y. Partially Dismisses Claims Against Pharmaceutical Company, But Allows Claim Regarding Misleading Statements About Upcoming NDA for Rare Tissue Disorder To Proceed

Smith v. Antares Pharma, Inc., 2020 WL 2041752 (D.N.J. Apr. 28, 2020)

Judge Michael A. Shipp of the District of New Jersey dismissed a putative class action complaint filed against Antares Pharma, Inc., and certain of its officers, holding that the plaintiff failed to adequately allege an actionable misrepresentation or omission concerning certain adverse events observed in two Phase 3 clinical studies of Antares’s lead product, QuickShot Testosterone (“QST”), an auto injector product for testosterone replacement therapy.  Plaintiff alleged that Antares made eight materially false or misleading statements concerning the safety of the product and likelihood of FDA approval.

Continue Reading District of New Jersey Dismisses Action Regarding Company’s Statements Concerning Drug Delivery System’s Safety

Mehta v. Ocular Therapeutix, Inc., 955 F.3d 194 (1st Cir. 2020)

On April 9, 2020, the First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an action brought against a biopharmaceutical company, Ocular Therapeutix, Inc., and certain of its officers, regarding statements concerning the Company’s manufacturing processes.  The Court held that plaintiffs failed to allege facts giving rise to a strong inference of scienter (i.e., fraudulent intent) and thus failed to adequately plead a securities law violation.

Continue Reading First Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Action Regarding Statements Concerning Manufacturing of Eye Drug

Hou Liu v. Intercept Pharm., Inc., 2020 WL 1489831 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 26, 2020)

On March 26, 2020, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York granted a motion to dismiss an action against Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and certain of its executives regarding twenty-one statements made about safety, dosing, and effects of Ocaliva, a drug approved to treat patients with primary biliary cholangitis (“PBC”), a rare liver disease.  The complaint alleged that Intercept’s stock dropped after it issued a Dear Healthcare Provider Letter (the “HCP Letter”) and again after the FDA issued a drug safety communication and a corresponding safety alert on Ocaliva.

Continue Reading S.D.N.Y. Dismisses Action due to Plaintiffs’ Failure to Link Occurrences of Serious Adverse Events to Liver Disease Drug

A recently-published annual report from Cornerstone Research demonstrates the continued focus by the plaintiffs’ securities litigation bar on pharmaceutical, healthcare, and biotechnology firms.

The report notes that 2019 federal securities filings (excluding merger objections), against Consumer Non-Cyclical companies, primarily composed of pharmaceutical, healthcare, and biotechnology firms, were at record levels.  Specifically, federal filings in the biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare sectors increased from 56 in 2018 to 63 in 2019.

Continue Reading Cornerstone Research Report Shows Continued Rate of Federal Securities Litigation Filings Targeting Pharmaceutical Industry

In re Celgene Corp. Sec. Litig., 2019 WL 6909463 (D.N.J. Dec. 19, 2019)

On December 19, 2019, Judge John Michael Vazquez of the District of New Jersey partially denied a motion to dismiss a putative securities class action complaint filed against biopharmaceutical company Celgene and certain of its executives.

Plaintiff’s allegations relied heavily on purported information from former Celgene employees, consultants, and scientists, and arose out of Celgene’s statements concerning three drugs that Celgene was developing as revenue replacements for its blockbuster multiple myeloma drug, Revlimid, which has a patent set to expire in 2022.  Judge Vazquez analyzed allegations relating to each drug in turn.

Continue Reading District Court Judge Partially Dismisses Claims Against Celgene, But Allows Allegations Regarding Misleading Statements About Sales Projections and FDA Approval to Proceed

Biondolillo v. Roche Holding AG, 2019 WL 2498928 (D.N.J. June 17, 2019)

On June 17, 2019, Senior Judge Anne E. Thompson granted a motion to dismiss an action alleging that Roche Holding AG and four executives misled investors by failing to disclose a conflict of interest on the part of a study’s trial investigator.

Plaintiffs alleged that Roche’s statements regarding one of its drug trials were misleading because Roche failed to disclose that it had paid millions of dollars in consulting fees and other payments to a doctor who served as one of the trial investigators and co-authored a publication of the study.

Continue Reading District of New Jersey Dismisses Action For Failure to Allege Materiality of Non-Disclosure of a Conflict of Interest

Forman v. Meridian Bioscience, 2019 WL 2177030 (S.D. Ohio May 20, 2019)

On May 20, 2019, Judge Susan J. Dlott of the Southern District of Ohio granted plaintiff’s motion to reconsider and amend a prior order dismissing an action against Meridian Bioscience, Inc. and two of its executives.

Plaintiff brought claims under Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and SEC Rule 10b-5, alleging that defendants had misrepresented the efficacy of, and concealed known regulatory problems with, blood lead level testing products manufactured by Meridian’s subsidiary, Magellan Diagnostics.

Continue Reading District Judge Finds Error in Previous Dismissal of Action Against Acquirer of Blood Testing Manufacturer