Week Ahead in Health: July 26, 2021 – Reuters

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(Reuters) – Here are some upcoming events of interest to the health community. All times are local.

Monday, July 26

9 a.m. – The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena will hear, by videoconference, an appeal by medical staffing company Aya Healthcare seeking to revive its antitrust lawsuit against rival AMN Healthcare. Aya alleges that AMN suppressed competition in the travel nursing market by preventing its former employees from using the names of any travel nurses in AMN’s database and through no-poaching agreements. U.S. District Judge Michael Anello in San Diego granted summary judgment to AMN.

The case is Aya Healthcare Services Inc et al v. AMN Healthcare Inc et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-55679. For Aya Healthcare: William Markham of Law Offices of William Markham. For AMN: David Bamberger of DLA Piper.

9 a.m. – UnitedHealth Group Inc will ask the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to overturn a lower court ruling that denial of coverage for out-of-network breastfeeding support and counseling violated federal law. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco in 2018 granted summary judgment to six women who brought a class action against the health insurance giant over the denials. The company is also challenging the judge’s decision to grant class certification.

The case is Condry et al v. UnitedHealth Group Inc et al, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-16823. For UnitedHealth: Raymond Cardozo of Reed Smith. For plaintiffs: Kimberly Donaldson-Smith of Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP.

Tuesday, July 27

9:30 a.m. – Closing arguments are scheduled in the trial of a lawsuit by Huntington, West Virginia and Cabell County accusing leading drug wholesalers AmerisourceBergen Corp, McKesson Corp and Cardinal Health Inc of ignoring red flags that opioid drugs they sold were being diverted into illegal channels. The case was chosen as an early bellwether out of thousands of opioid lawsuits around the country, and the plaintiffs are currently not taking part in a recently announced $21 billion nationwide settlement with the distributors.

The case is City of Huntington, West Virginia et al v. AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia, No. 3:17-cv-01362. For Cabell County: Paul Farrell of Farrell Law. For Huntington: Anne Kearse of Motley Rice. For AmerisourceBergen: Robert Nicholas of Reed Smith. For Cardinal: Enu Mainigi of Williams & Connolly. For McKesson: Paul Schmidt of Covington & Burling.

Wednesday, July 28

10:30 a.m. – The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments by videoconference over Massachusetts arcade Bit Bar’s challenge to restrictions imposed by Governor Charlier Baker to combat COVID-19. The business claimed in a lawsuit last year that the restrictions, including capacity limits, violated its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, but U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns in Boston declined to block the measures.

The case is Boston Bit Labs Inc v. Baker, 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-2046. For Bit Bar: Marc Randazza of Randazza Legal Group. For the state: Laronica Lightfoot of the Attorney General’s office.

10:30 a.m. – A pretrial conference is scheduled before U.S. District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan in the criminal case accusing former Rochester Drug Co-operative Inc chief executive Laurence Doud of illegally distributing opioid drugs. Prosecutors said that despite the company’s obligations to not ship drugs to pharmacies it knew were dispensing the drugs unlawfully, Doud agreed to ship opioids to pharmacies even when “red flags” existed demonstrating they were diverting them. Doud, who led Rochester from 1991 to 2017, has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

The case is U.S. v. Doud, No. 19-cr-00285. For the United States: Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexandra Rothman, Louis Pellegrino, Nicolas Roos and Stephanie Lake. For Doud: Derrelle Janey of The Janey Law Firm and Robert C. Gottlieb & Associates.

Thursday, July 29

9 a.m. – The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will hear arguments over whether health system ProMedica Health Inc was required to keep Toledo, Ohio’s St. Luke’s Hospital in the network of its health insurance subsidiary after it was forced to unwind its purchase of the hospital by the Federal Trade Commission. ProMedica is seeking to reverse an injunction by U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary in Toledo, Ohio barring it from dropping the hospital on the grounds that doing so would violate antitrust law.

The case is St. Luke’s Hospital et al v. ProMedica Health System Inc et al, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-3007. For ProMedica: Douglas Litvack of Davis Wright Tremaine. For St. Luke’s: David Ettinger of Honigman.

9:30 a.m. – The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in Boston will hear remote arguments on whether to consolidate new MDLs over claims that Eisai Inc’s weight loss drug Belviq caused cancer and claims that Novartis AG’s leukemia drug Tasigna caused heart disease and other conditions.

The case are In re Belviq (Lorcaserin HCL) Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 3005 and In re: Tasigna (Nilotinib) Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 3006. For Belviq plaintiffs: Michael London of Douglas & London. For Eisai: Heidi Levine of Sidley Austin. For Tasigna plaintiffs: Richard Elias of Elias LLC. For Novartis: Joe Hollingsworth of Hollingsworth.

10 a.m. – A status conference is scheduled via videoconference before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in San Francisco in the multidistrict litigation consolidating local governments’ claims that consulting firm McKinsey & Co Inc of fueling the opioid epidemic through its work advising drug manufacturers.

The case is In re: McKinsey & Co., Inc. National Prescription Opiate Consultant Litigation, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 21-md-02996. For McKinsey: James Bernard of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. For plaintiffs: Louis Bograd of Motley Rice and others.

Know of an event that could be included in Week Ahead in Health? Contact Brendan Pierson at brendan.pierson@thomsonreuters.com

Brendan Pierson reports on product liability litigation and on all areas of health care law. He can be reached at brendan.pierson@thomsonreuters.com.

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