Legal Business Blogs

Health department prepares to battle Big Pharma with launch of litigation panel

The Department of Health has launched a tender for a panel of law firms to pursue litigation against companies in the pharmaceutical industry.

It is estimated that the value of the legal spend will be up to £6m, following a supplier information day held on 12 January.

The Department of Health has stated that the purpose of the supplier information day is to ‘establish a panel of law firms to act for, and provide advice to, the Department of Health in connection with Civil Litigation Arbitration and Mediation against companies in the pharmaceutical industry.’

The Department added: ‘The scope of civil proceedings may include but shall not be limited to investigation into deceit, anti-competitive agreements, patent infringement and the abuse of dominant market positions by companies.’

In 2013 the Department reviewed its NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) shortlist, with 14 firms winning places on the legal panel.

DAC Beachcroft, Kennedys, Hill Dickinson, Browne Jacobson, Weightmans, Bevan Brittan and Capsticks were among the firms who made the cut, which deals with claims from patients who have been harmed whilst under the care of the NHS. The panel is expected to be reviewed again this year.

In December 2016, US-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer was fined a record £84.2m by the Competition and Markets Authority after drastically elevating prices of anti-epilepsy drugs.

Administering its maximum fine, the CMA said: ‘extraordinary price rises have cost the NHS and the taxpayers tens of millions of pounds.’

A spokesperson for the Department declined to comment on the panel.

Other recent panel reviews include Sainsbury’s which will review its roster to incorporate its new acquisition of Argos. Meanwhile, Merlin Entertainments has completed its adviser review, appointing DLA Piper as its primary supplier for global construction as well as UK commercial, property and HR work. Following the trend for a smaller panel The Crown Estate has given Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) the sole mandate for its £7bn Central London property portfolio.

Read more on external adviser reviews in: ‘A buyers’ market – The trends and traumas in adviser reviews’