AstraZeneca’s Alexion Resolves Long-Standing Legal Saga: $125M Settlement in Soliris Sales Battle!
In a legal faceoff that has spanned several years, AstraZeneca’s rare diseases arm, Alexion, has taken a significant step towards closure. The company recently struck a substantial $125 million settlement with investors concerning a 2016 lawsuit linked to sales practices for its breakthrough hemoglobinuria therapy, Soliris (eculizumab), according to reports from Bloomberg Law.
This legal saga kicked off when investors filed a class action complaint in 2016, fueled by concerns over alleged illegal and unethical sales practices related to Soliris. While the settlement doesn’t require Alexion to admit wrongdoing, it is a crucial step toward resolving claims of artificially boosting Soliris sales.
The investors contended that Alexion had made false or misleading statements regarding Soliris’ sales practices, leading to inflated revenues that were likely unsustainable. The lawsuit alleged that this also resulted in misleading public announcements from the company, painting a worrisome picture of the practices surrounding this crucial therapeutic asset.
This legal battle had lasting effects on the company, prompting changes at the executive level with the departure of former CEO David Hallal and CFO Vikas Sinha in 2016. Amidst the controversy, Alexion conducted a thorough investigation into the whistleblower allegations, revealing that “senior management applied pressure on personnel to use pull-in sales to meet targets.”
The practice of ‘pull-in sales’ involves placing orders for Soliris in an earlier fiscal quarter than needed, artificially boosting that quarter’s sales at the expense of reduced revenue in the subsequent quarter. While acknowledging these practices, Alexion asserted that they were not inherently problematic as long as they aligned with U.S. regulations.
Beyond this legal battle, other inquiries into Alexion’s business practices followed, indicating the gravity of the situation. Amidst the backdrop of these events, AstraZeneca stepped in, acquiring Alexion in December 2020 for a substantial $39 billion.
The settlement, while a financial commitment, signifies a step toward closure for Alexion, allowing the company to navigate towards a future unburdened by the shadows of past legal complexities.