May 5, 2011

San Mateo jury awards $30 million in punitive damages and $547 million in compensatory damages against Swiss pharma giant Actelion

Reuters is reporting that Swiss biopharmaceutical firm Actelion Ltd. plans to appeal from a jury award of $547 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages in a dispute with rival drug company Asahi Kasei Pharma Corp.  Asahi accused Actelion of intentionally interfering with Asahi's attempts to develop a drug for the treatment of heart disease, in order to preserve Actelion's dominant position in that market.

Ordinarily, when a jury awards tens of millions in punitive damages, that award becomes the focal point of the appeal.  But in this case the punitive damages issues will obviously take a back seat to arguments challenging the colossal compensatory award.

Asahi's lawyers have issued this press release touting their victory.