Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Drugs & Biotech
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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Allergan in an action under state law alleging that plaintiff suffered injuries when her breast implants bled silicone into her body. Through the Medical Device Amendments (MDA) to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), Congress permitted FDA oversight of medical devices; the MDA expressly preempts state law regulation of medical devices; and for a state law claim regarding a Class III medical device to survive express preemption by the MDA, a plaintiff must establish that the defendant violated an FDA requirement. In this case, the panel held that plaintiff failed to show that Allergan violated a federal requirement for its Style 20 breast implant. The panel held that plaintiff failed to raise a genuine dispute of material fact that Allergan violated the FDA's pre-market approval and Current Good Manufacturing Practices. Therefore, plaintiff has now shown a violation of an FDA requirement, which she must for her state law claims to fit through the narrow exception to MDA preemption. View "Weber v. Allergan, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for defendants, makers of vitamin E supplements, in an action alleging that the labels on the supplements violated California laws against false advertising. The panel held that section 343-1(a)(5) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) expressly preempts state law requirements for claims about dietary supplements that differ from the FDCA's requirements. In this case, the panel held that section 343-1(a)(5) preempted most of plaintiff's claims. The panel held that because the FDCA and California law have the same labeling requirement with respect to failing to disclose an increased risk of death, section 343-1(a)(5) did not preempt this part of plaintiff's action. The panel held that the record lacked evidence that vitamin E supplements were actually harmful, as opposed to simply useless at reducing all-cause mortality (which they did not claim to reduce). Therefore, there was no genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendants' immune-health structure/function claim was misleading. View "Dachauer v. NBTY, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Drugs & Biotech
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The Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal of an action alleging California consumer claims against MusclePharm Corporation, a manufacturer of nutritional supplements. The complaint alleged that MusclePharm made false or misleading statements about the protein in one of its products. The Ninth Circuit held that the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and its implementing regulations concerned only the calculation and disclosure of protein amount; the FDCA preempted a state-law misbranding theory premised on the supplement's use of nitrogen-spiking agents to inflate the measurement of protein for the nutrition panel; but the FDCA did not preempt a state-law misbranding theory premised on the label's allegedly false or misleading implication that the supplement's protein came entirely from two specifically named, genuine protein sources. In this case, plaintiff's claims were not preempted to the extent they arose under this theory. View "Durnford v. MusclePharm Corp." on Justia Law

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Solis alleged that his former employers violated the federal False Claims Act (FCA) by promoting dangerous off-label uses of a cardiovascular drug, Integrilin, and by paying physicians kickbacks to prescribe Integrilin and an antibiotic drug, Avelox. The district court found that Solis’s FCA claims were foreclosed by the public disclosure bar, which deprives federal courts of subject matter jurisdiction over FCA suits when the alleged fraud has already been publicly disclosed unless the relator is deemed an original source. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part, holding that Solis’s Integrilin claims were substantially similar to those in prior public disclosures, and were close enough in kind and degree to have put the government on notice to investigate the alleged fraud before Solis filed his complaint. The court vacated the dismissal of Solis’s Integrilin claims and remanded for a determination of whether Solis qualified for the “original source” exception, 31 U.S.C. 3730(e)(4). Concerning Solis’s Avelox claims, the court held that the district court clearly erred in finding that the Avelox claims were publicly disclosed based on court complaints that never mentioned Avelox but affirmed the dismissal of Solis’s Avelox claims on the alternative ground of failure to plead with particularity as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 9(b). View "Solis v. Millenium Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment for EpiCept in an action brought by doctors, alleging claims for breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and fraud. The doctors' claims relate to two patents for a non-FDA approved drug (NP-2) and EpiCept's failure to develop those patents into FDA-approved drugs. The doctors' arguments mainly center on the jury's determination that the doctors materially breached their contract with EpiCept by failing to disclose that Dr. Flores treated burn patients with NP-2. The panel held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in formulating the jury instructions, or in determining that the jury's verdict was not against the clear weight of the evidence; neither the jury instructions given in this case nor the evidence presented at trial warrant the do-over the doctors demanded; the district court's response to the jury's question also did not merit a new trial because the jury's question was essentially factual and the district court's answer appropriately directed the jury to consider its original instructions and the evidence presented at trial; and because the panel affirmed the jury's finding that the doctors materially breached the contract, the district court's exclusion of the doctor's damages expert was necessarily harmless. View "Crowley v. EpiCept Corp." on Justia Law

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After plaintiff's son died of Hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (HSTCL), an exceedingly rare and aggressive form of cancer, they filed suit alleging negligence and strict liability concerning the manufacture and distribution of drugs used to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The Ninth Circuit reversed the grant of summary judgment to Teva, holding that the district court erred by excluding plaintiffs' causation experts' testimony. In this case, the district court looked too narrowly at each individual consideration under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589 (1993), without taking into account the broader picture of the experts' overall methodology. The district court improperly ignored the experts' experience, reliance on a variety of literature and studies, and review of the son's medical records and history, as well as the fundamental importance of differential diagnosis by experienced doctors treating troubled outpatients. Furthermore, the district court overemphasized the fact that the experts did not develop their opinions based on independent research and the experts did not cite epidemiological studies. The panel reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Teva in regard to the duty to warn claim because there was a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the prescribing physician's conduct would have changed with warnings from Teva and GSK. The panel declined to affirm the district court on four alternative grounds and reversed the district court's denial of plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration. View "Wendell v. GlaxoSmithKline" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court's opinion in CRST Van Expedited Inc. v. E.E.O.C., 136 S. Ct. 1642, 1646 (2016), effectively overruled Branson v Nott's holding that when a defendant wins because the action is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction he is never a prevailing party. In this case, Amphastar filed a qui tam action against Aventis under the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C 3730, alleging that Aventis obtained an illegal monopoly over the drug enoxaparin and then knowingly overcharged the United States. The district court dismissed the suit based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Ninth Circuit held that Amphastar's allegations were based on publicly disclosed information, and it lacked the direct and independent knowledge needed to be an original source. Therefore, the panel upheld the district court's judgment on the merits. However, the panel held that the district court erroneously concluded that it could not award attorneys' fees, because the FCA's fee-shifting provision contained an independent grant of subject matter jurisdiction and because a party who wins a lawsuit on a non-merits issue is a "prevailing party." The panel remanded for resolution of the attorneys' fees issue. View "Amphastar Pharmaceuticals v. Aventis Pharma" on Justia Law

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Serena Kwan appealed the dismissal of her second amended complaint for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. In 2014, Kwan, On Behalf of Herself and All Others Similarly Situated, filed a class action against Defendants-Appellees, SanMedica International, LLC (“SanMedica”), and Sierra Research Group, LLC (“Sierra”), alleging violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) and California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”). The complaint was based on an allegation that the defendants falsely represented that their product, SeroVital, provided a 682% mean increase in Human Growth Hormone (“HGH”) levels, that it was clinically tested, and that “peak growth hormone levels” were associated with “youthful skin integrity, lean musculature, elevated energy production, [and] adipose tissue distribution." The Ninth Circuit concluded the district court correctly concluded that California law did not provide for a private cause of action to enforce the substantiation requirements of California’s unfair competition and consumer protection laws. Further, the district court did not err in concluding that Kwan’s second amended complaint failed to allege facts that would support a finding that SanMedica International’s claims regarding its product, SeroVital, were actually false. Accordingly, the Court affirmed dismissal. View "Kwan v. Sanmedica Int'l" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a putative securities class action against defendants in connection with public statements made about Arena’s weight-loss drug, lorcaserin. When Arena filed its application with the FDA, the FDA’s advisory panel published a briefing document that disclosed, for the first time, that Arena had been in a “highly unusual” back-and-forth with the FDA regarding the results of cancer studies on rats (the “Rat Study”). Plaintiff filed suit after news of the Rat Study broke. The district court dismissed the First, Second, and Proposed Third Amended Complaints. The court agreed that once defendants touted the safety and likely approval of the drug based on animal studies, defendants were obligated to disclose the Rat Study's existence to the market. The court concluded that plaintiff has alleged scienter with sufficient particularity to survive a motion to dismiss. In this case, there is no question that plaintiff has alleged that defendants knew that the Rat Study existed, that defendants knew that the FDA’s request for bi-monthly reports and follow-up studies was highly unusual and out-of-process, and defendants went ahead and told investors about their confidence in lorcaserin’s approval based on preclinical animal studies. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiff has properly pleaded scienter under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act (PSLRA), 15 U.S.C. 78u-4. The court reversed and remanded. View "Schwartz v. Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law

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The FDA opened an investigation and sent warning letters to 1-800-GET-THIN and a few surgery centers in California, stating that the FDA believed 1-800-GET-THIN’s LapBand advertising violated the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), 21 U.S.C. 301 et seq., by not providing relevant risk information regarding the LapBand procedure. The district court subsequently granted the government’s ex parte motion to compel production of attorney-client documents. The court agreed with the Sixth Circuit and concluded that, while in camera review is not necessary to establish a prima facie case that the client was engaged in or planning a criminal or fraudulent scheme when it sought the advice of counsel to further the scheme, a district court must examine the individual documents themselves to determine that the specific attorney-client communications for which production is sought are sufficiently related to and were made in furtherance of the intended, or present, continuing illegality. Accordingly, the court vacated the order compelling production of all subpoenaed documents so the district court may examine the documents in camera to determine which specific documents contain communications in furtherance of the crime fraud exception to the attorney client privilege. View "United States v. Omidi" on Justia Law