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Life Sciences

Vinson & Elkins’ understanding of the complexities and nuances of the life sciences industry enables us to meet our clients’ unique needs at each stage of their growth and development. Our talent spans industries ranging from biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices to food and drug retailers, agriculture, and chemical. We provide guidance to some of the leading global providers of branded and generic pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical devices, biomass and renewable technologies, and research tools and analytical services, as well as start-ups and emerging companies and the investment entities that support these industries.

Understanding that our life sciences clients need sophisticated legal services, our Life Sciences team is composed of lawyers from all corners of the Firm, many of whom possess degrees in biology, biochemical sciences, biomedical engineering, chemistry, chemical engineering, and medicine.

In keeping with the evolving life sciences industry, V&E lawyers stay current with the changing patent, regulatory, and policy landscape of this industry. With this understanding, we translate technology into a compelling, credible story to educate a judge or a jury about the merits of a client’s position. We focus on developing the case and tailoring a story, using the right lexicon, to create a cost-effective, controlled, and sound strategy.

On the transactional side, we evaluate issues from a broad business perspective to align client business goals with intellectual property strategy. V&E counsels clients on the full breadth of transactions, including technology transfer, licensing, research and development, venture capital financing, mergers and acquisitions, joint venture, and strategic alliances, among others. Our strong technology expertise allows us to execute precise transactions, calibrating what we need to give (or get) to protect a client’s intellectual property throughout the life of a transaction.

Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Transactions

  • St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System in its $1 billion transfer to the Catholic Health Initiatives

  • Welsh Carson in the $790 million sale of Concentra to Humana 

  • Reata Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in its $70 million initial public offering of common stock 

Venture Capital & Emerging Companies

  • Mirna Therapeutics, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on microRNA-based oncology therapeutics, in a $34.5 million Series C financing with new and existing investors

  • Institutional investor in $40 million investment in a regenerative medicine company focused on the development of cell therapies for use in the treatment of ischemic cardiovascular diseases

  • Eastern Capital Limited in the up to $25.5 million investment in common stock and warrants of TapImmune, Inc., an immunotherapy company specializing in the development of innovative technologies for the treatment of cancer

IP Licensing & Transactions

  • Teva Pharmaceuticals in strategic negotiation of joint- development and commercialization agreement in its $144 million acquisition, plus up to approximately $124 million in contingent value payments, through an unsolicited offer of NuPathe, Inc., a developer of products for the treatment of the central nervous system

IP Litigation

  • (W.D. Wis.) — Represented a Danish bio-based company in a patent infringement case relating to genetically-engineered enzymes used to make fuel ethanol; the patent was held invalid for lack of written description at the trial court level and affirmed on appeal

Health Care Litigation

  • (5th Cir.) — On behalf of Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas and Dr. James Knochel, secured reversal of a record $366 million jury verdict in a physician peer review case; judgment was rendered in our clients’ favor, holding that they were immune from damages claims under the federal Health Care Quality Improvement Act; the United States Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s petition for certiorari

  • (Tex.) — Obtained a ruling unanimously striking down a procedure used by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission that improperly lowered the rates at which Texas hospitals are reimbursed for providing Medicaid services

FDA Litigation & Investigations

  • (W.D. Was.) — National counsel for a beverage manufacturer in mass food contamination cases, based on exposure to the E. coli bacteria; developed all percipient and expert witnesses for defense of cases, and coordinated the litigation of hundreds of cases brought primarily in the western United States; handled product recall and investigation by U.S. FDA and defeated class certification in U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington; assisted in successfully crafting a punitive damages defense, which led to the ultimate resolution of all liabilities

Insurance Disputes & Arbitration

  • Represented a major pharmaceutical company in a series of international arbitrations in London for indemnification under bespoke insurance policies responding to the risk of patent infringement damages in connection with the manufacture and distribution of generic drugs

  • Counsel for Teva in drafting insurance assignment agreement in $40 billion acquisition of Allergan’s generic business

  • Expert witness for CVS Health Corporation in dispute under catastrophe equity protection insurance policy purchased by MedPartners, Inc. 


  • (W.D. Tex.) — Representing Phadia US Inc. against federal and state antitrust violations and state tortious interference claims; the case, brought by Allergy & Asthma in Primary Care and United Allergy Services (UAS), alleges our client intimidated primary care physicians from practicing allergy care within their scope of practice, coercing and persuading allergist colleagues to boycott primary care physicians; the outcome of the case will affect how physicians and testing companies compete in the market for allergy testing and allergen immunotherapy in Texas and beyond 

Government & Internal Investigations

  • Represents an executive of a generic pharmaceutical company in connection with a federal price fixing investigation

Government Contracts

  • Multiple GAO and COFC protests involving the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) award of Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) contracts collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars

  • Representing healthcare contractors in multiple appeals before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals involving complex cost accounting

  • Handling multiple proceedings involving the Maryland Health Insurance Exchange, including prime/subcontractor litigation in Federal District Court in Maryland and arbitration before the American Arbitration Association

Securities Litigation & Enforcement

  • (9th Cir.); (N.D. Cal.); (Cal. Super. – Santa Clara Cnty.) – Secured on appeal affirmance of dismissal of a securities class action complaint against VIVUS, Inc. and two senior officers, arising from disappointing FDA action on a drug approval application; represented defendant officers and directors also in related shareholder derivative litigations in federal and state courts in California

  • (Del. Ch.); (W.D. Wash.); (Wash. Super. – King Cnty.) — Representing a biotechnology company, and various officers and directors, in a consolidated securities class action in federal court in Washington State, and in related individual securities litigation and shareholder derivative litigations in state and federal court in Washington State and in Delaware, relating generally to missed revenue guidance, the withdrawal of financial guidance and alleged insider trading; this matter also included a formal investigation by the SEC

  • (D. Md.) — Secured dismissal on a first motions of a securities class action against a biotechnology company, and certain officers and directors, related to a failed drug trial