U.S. judge guts fee request in Glumetza pay-for-delay case, awards $50 mln

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A U.S. Dollar banknote is seen in this illustration taken May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
  • Major U.S. drug wholesalers objected to original request for $112.8 million in fees
  • California judge said his order's in line with other "megafund" cases

(Reuters) - A California federal judge on Thursday slashed a legal-fee request from plaintiffs lawyers for purchasers of the diabetes drug Glumetza, approving less than half the amount the firms sought for securing about $453 million in settlements in the antitrust case.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, in awarding about $50 million in fees, said in his order that the requested $112.8 million from the plaintiffs firms — including Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, Hilliard Shadowen and Sperling & Slater — would have amounted to an "unnecessary windfall" from an hourly rate of $3,269 for every lawyer on the case.

Alsup said his 11% award was in line with other "megafund" cases involving settlements of more than $100 million. National drug wholesalers McKesson Corp, Cardinal Health Inc and AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp, the three largest class members, objected to the size of the original request.

"Despite the fact that counsel undertook this litigation on a purely contingent basis, the risk of non-payment was spread out over seven different law firms, ensuring that no one firm would take too big a hit upon an adverse ruling," Alsup wrote.

The plaintiffs accused Bausch Health Companies Inc, Lupin Pharmaceuticals Inc and Assertio Therapeutics Inc of anticompetitive practices related to Glumetza. The purchasers alleged Lupin was paid to delay launching a generic version of Glumetza.

Bausch settled for $300 million last year, and Lupin agreed to pay $150 million. Assertio settled for $3.8 million. Alsup's order gave final approval to the deals.

Hagens Berman partner Lauren Barnes in San Francisco on Thursday said "it's no surprise that we were hoping for, and we think the law supported, a different result on the fee request." She said Alsup's order did not diminish the "tremendous recovery we secured for the class, based on the hard work, talent, and creativity of an amazing team of trial lawyers."

Alsup lauded the plaintiffs' work that "discovered and developed this case without the benefit of a government investigation's coattails."

The judge said his order aligned with the 9% fee-award — $69.5 million — that a Manhattan federal judge ordered in 2020 in a $750 million antitrust settlement secured by purchasers of the Allergan Plc's Alzheimer medication Namenda.

The case is In re Glumetza Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:19-cv-05822.

Read more:

2nd Circuit raises a glass to contingency fee lawyers

Plaintiffs' lawyers seek $113 mln fee in Glumetza pay-for-delay case

Class lawyers win reduced fee of $152 million in Sutter case

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