Federal Court of Appeals to Decide on Claims for United States in Fraud Case Against Hoffmann-La Roche

24 Aug, 2004, 01:00 ET from Promega Corporation

    MADISON, Wis., Aug. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
 will decide the right of the United States to recover losses on payments made
 to Hoffmann-La Roche and its partner Applera Corporation on a key patent in
 molecular biology. A preliminary communication from the U.S. District Court in
 Virginia indicates that the case will be dismissed and today Promega announced
 it will appeal that determination. This allows the appellate court to resolve
 the issue of whether lies told to the U.S. Government in procuring the patent
 on Taq DNA Polymerase can be addressed under the False Claims Act.
     The claim filed in Virginia seeks recovery of what could be hundreds of
 millions of dollars in wrongful payments for Taq DNA Polymerase by the
 Government to Hoffmann-La Roche and Applera. This action arose out of other
 litigation in which the Roche Taq patent was ruled unenforceable. The Federal
 Court for the Northern District of California ruled in 1999 and reaffirmed
 this past May that the patent for Taq could not be enforced against anyone
 because it had been obtained with a series of false material statements that
 were intentionally made to the United States Patent Office, which even
 included the fabrication of experimental data.  Promega damage claims on its
 own behalf remain pending in California.
     "As the Federal Court in California held, people lied to the United States
 Patent Office in obtaining the Taq patent," stated Randall Dimond, Promega
 Vice President and Chief Technical Officer.  "As many in the scientific
 community recognize, Roche's aggressive enforcement of this patent caused
 hundreds of millions to be paid to Roche through government grants and other
 government programs, and we believe the people who paid those monies,
 including the government, should be paid back. We believe the False Claims Act
 is one important way to ensure integrity in the patent process. Wrongfully
 obtained patents prevent free and open competition and thus lead, as they did
 here, to grossly excessive pricing caused by the payment of royalties and
 license fees on a patent that never should have been allowed. Open competition
 guarantees that precious federal dollars are not needlessly squandered."
     The Virginia action is based on the False Claims Act, a federal statute
 allowing recovery of funds improperly paid by the Government. While the case
 was brought by Promega on behalf of the United States, the United States
 Department of Justice had, as well, previously filed a Statement of Interest
 in the Virginia case in support of Promega. At the insistence of Hoffmann-La
 Roche, the media and public have been barred from seeing the substance of the
 latest False Claims Act allegations.
     Promega Corporation is a leader in providing innovative solutions and
 technical support to the life sciences industry.  The company's 1,200 products
 enable scientists worldwide to advance their knowledge in genomics,
 proteomics, cellular analysis, molecular diagnostics and human identification.
 Founded in 1978, the company is headquartered in Madison, WI, USA with
 branches in 10 countries and 54 global distributors.  Annual sales exceed
 $165 million.  For more information about Promega, visit
 http://www.promega.com .
 
 

SOURCE Promega Corporation
    MADISON, Wis., Aug. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
 will decide the right of the United States to recover losses on payments made
 to Hoffmann-La Roche and its partner Applera Corporation on a key patent in
 molecular biology. A preliminary communication from the U.S. District Court in
 Virginia indicates that the case will be dismissed and today Promega announced
 it will appeal that determination. This allows the appellate court to resolve
 the issue of whether lies told to the U.S. Government in procuring the patent
 on Taq DNA Polymerase can be addressed under the False Claims Act.
     The claim filed in Virginia seeks recovery of what could be hundreds of
 millions of dollars in wrongful payments for Taq DNA Polymerase by the
 Government to Hoffmann-La Roche and Applera. This action arose out of other
 litigation in which the Roche Taq patent was ruled unenforceable. The Federal
 Court for the Northern District of California ruled in 1999 and reaffirmed
 this past May that the patent for Taq could not be enforced against anyone
 because it had been obtained with a series of false material statements that
 were intentionally made to the United States Patent Office, which even
 included the fabrication of experimental data.  Promega damage claims on its
 own behalf remain pending in California.
     "As the Federal Court in California held, people lied to the United States
 Patent Office in obtaining the Taq patent," stated Randall Dimond, Promega
 Vice President and Chief Technical Officer.  "As many in the scientific
 community recognize, Roche's aggressive enforcement of this patent caused
 hundreds of millions to be paid to Roche through government grants and other
 government programs, and we believe the people who paid those monies,
 including the government, should be paid back. We believe the False Claims Act
 is one important way to ensure integrity in the patent process. Wrongfully
 obtained patents prevent free and open competition and thus lead, as they did
 here, to grossly excessive pricing caused by the payment of royalties and
 license fees on a patent that never should have been allowed. Open competition
 guarantees that precious federal dollars are not needlessly squandered."
     The Virginia action is based on the False Claims Act, a federal statute
 allowing recovery of funds improperly paid by the Government. While the case
 was brought by Promega on behalf of the United States, the United States
 Department of Justice had, as well, previously filed a Statement of Interest
 in the Virginia case in support of Promega. At the insistence of Hoffmann-La
 Roche, the media and public have been barred from seeing the substance of the
 latest False Claims Act allegations.
     Promega Corporation is a leader in providing innovative solutions and
 technical support to the life sciences industry.  The company's 1,200 products
 enable scientists worldwide to advance their knowledge in genomics,
 proteomics, cellular analysis, molecular diagnostics and human identification.
 Founded in 1978, the company is headquartered in Madison, WI, USA with
 branches in 10 countries and 54 global distributors.  Annual sales exceed
 $165 million.  For more information about Promega, visit
 http://www.promega.com .
 
 SOURCE  Promega Corporation