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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 

  • Rules-Based Medicine in the $80 million sale of the molecular diagnostics company to Myriad Genetics Inc

  • 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

  • Pharmaceutical company in a worldwide, exclusive license, development and collaboration agreement for the development of an early stage drug product to treat pain for an up-front payment of $41 million, along with additional milestone payments and tiered royalties

  • A pharmaceutical company in a $300 million co-development and out-licensing deal granting rights to develop and commercialize client’s drug candidate throughout Asia

Paragraph IV Litigation

  • (E.D. Tex.); (Fed. Cir.) — Represented a pharmaceutical company against four ANDA filers in the successful defense of its patents covering a migraine therapy in the first Paragraph IV Hatch-Waxman litigations tried in the Eastern District of Texas; obtained affirmances of judgment in two separate appeals

  • (S.D.N.Y.) — Counsel for one of the largest U.S. generic pharmaceutical companies in Hatch-Waxman ANDA litigation regarding competing branded oral contraceptive, Yasmin®; defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings granted, and plaintiffs’ patent infringement claims dismissed with prejudice

  • (S.D. Fla.); (D. Del.); (Fed. Cir.); (U.S.) — Represented branded pharmaceutical company against generic manufacturers in connection with ulcerative colitis drug product; participated in bench trials in the Southern District of Florida and in the District of Delaware; litigated one case through trial, appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States

IP Litigation

  • (Fed. Cir.); (E.D. Tex.) — Represented a neurosurgeon in a trade secret and correction of inventorship case against one of the largest privately held, medical device companies in the United States; obtained a large jury verdict after a jury trial in the Eastern District of Texas; the verdict was affirmed by the Federal Circuit 

  • (N.D. Cal.) — Served as trial counsel in an enforcement action for patents directed to a revolutionary method of in situ hybridization, which has become the standard of care used in the diagnosis of genetic abnormalities associated with many cancers and other diseases; a favorable settlement of this matter was obtained on the eve of trial; sought monetary and injunctive relief

  • (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

  • (W.D. Tex. – Midland) — Obtained a complete defense jury verdict on liability and damages in federal court in Midland, Texas, for a major pharmaceutical company in its first federal trial involving alleged heart valve damage from the use of diet drugs; the victory represented the first and only liability win in Texas for the manufacturer, who was beset by thousands of claims across the country

  • (Tex. Dist. − Harris Cnty.) — Obtained a complete defense summary judgment against defamation claims brought by a physician against a nonprofit children’s hospital; the trial court awarded sanctions to V&E’s nonprofit client of approximately $725,000, one of the largest sanctions awards in Texas jurisprudence

  • (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

Patent Prosecution

  • Prosecuted patents relating to medical devices, including spinal implants, wound therapy, syringes, catheters, orthodontics, mammography, ocular and nasal drug delivery, and transdermal delivery patches

  • Prosecuted patents pertaining to pharmaceuticals, polymers, genetically engineered crop resistance, and oil field technology

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

  • Represented one of the largest medical device companies in the United States in antitrust, patent, and contract litigation involving propriety of FDA-sanctioned recall under various scenarios; obtained dismissal of plaintiff’s claims through a motion for summary judgment one month before trial in the antitrust litigation

  • (S.D. Tex.); (5th Cir.) — Represented a medical device manufacturer in shareholder litigation alleging that the company fraudulently accounted for its stock option expenses and misled investors about the market for its device and the prospects for FDA approval; this matter was twice dismissed by the trial court and affirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals

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 

  • (E.D. Tex.) — Successfully assisted in the defense of the nation’s largest health care GPO in a $600 million antitrust action alleging exclusive dealing and challenging bundled discount arrangements; GPO client settled before trial with no cash payment

  • Represented hospital in a DOJ investigation of a rural hospital with regard to claims of monopolization and attempted monopolization

Government & Internal Investigations

  • Successfully represented a former top executive of a publicly traded pharmaceutical company in connection with a Justice Department investigation of health care fraud and off-label promotion; persuaded prosecutors to reverse decision to indict

  • Representing multiple employees of pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers in DOJ investigations of allegations of off-label promotion and Medicaid fraud and abuse

  • 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