Pharmaceutical and biotech companies, with proprietary and potentially lucrative products, have been popular targets for SPAC sponsors. Unfortunately, one such private equity sponsor may have its hands full after its managing partner was publicly named in a securities class action.
As the world waits to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, publicly traded pharmaceutical companies waging in that fight are facing the multifaceted challenge of developing COVID-19 responses, informing the public of their progress, and managing legal challenges related to their efforts. Enter AstraZeneca.
AstraZeneca partnered with Oxford University to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in April 2020, which it later called “AZD1222.” On May 21, 2020, the company announced that the United States government was providing more than $1 billion for the development, production and delivery of the vaccine. Over the course of the next six months, the company continued to make public announcements on further financial support agreements and interim development results on its vaccine progress.
2014 was a banner year for federal recoveries under the False Claims Act (“FCA”). In a press release dated November 20, 2014, the DOJ announced that its total recoveries – including those from both settlements and judgments – amounted to $5.69 billion for the fiscal year ending September 30th. These results mark the first time that annual recoveries have exceeded $5 billion, and they continue a recent trend of aggressive FCA enforcement. The FCA is the primary civil statute through which the DOJ combats fraud on the federal Government. It includes qui tam provisions which provide monetary incentives for whistleblowers to file suit directly against wrongdoers. $3 billion of FY 2014’s $5.69 billion recoveries arose from qui tam actions, with the Government paying $435 million to reward the whistleblowers. The number of qui tam suits has exceeded 700 for each of the last two fiscal years, far exceeding the 300 – 400 per year in the period between FY 2000 and 2009.