United Files Complaint Over cART Drug Regimen Monopoly

On October 19, 2021, United HealthCare Services, Inc. filed a direct action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota alleging an anticompetitive conspiracy to monopolize the market for combination antiretroviral therapy (“cART”) drugs used to treat HIV infection. The complaint echoes the allegations made in class action complaints and retail pharmacy complaints pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. United, however, does not name Bristol-Myers Squibb as a defendant, instead focusing its allegations on anticompetitive patent settlements with Teva and the ensuing price increases.

In these cases, the plaintiffs allege that Gilead unlawfully acquired a monopoly in the cART drug market through a multi-faceted scheme to suppress generic competition for its branded cART drugs. In the alleged scheme, Gilead (1) entered into a series of bilateral agreements with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Jansen Pharmaceuticals to suppress generic competition to the three companies’ drugs, (2) intentionally degraded its own products, (3) intentionally withheld products from the market, (4) artificially inflated prices, and (5) entered into a series of patent settlement agreements with Teva among others that kept generic competition from the market.

United’s case will likely be consolidated with the existing cases in San Francisco. In the lead class case, Staley v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., No. 19-cv-02573 (N.D.CA), the classes filed motions for class certification on October 20, 2021. Under the current scheduling order, the fact discovery cut-off date is December 17, 2021, with a trial scheduled for November 7, 2022. We are actively monitoring the development of these cases. Companies that paid all or part of the purchase price for cART drugs, including on behalf of their insureds, should evaluate the size of their purchases and consider filing suit. 

United HealthCare Services, Inc., v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., et al., No. 21-cv- 02331 (D. Minn.)