Merck loses bid to revive $200 mln Gilead verdict at U.S. high court

January 7, 2019

By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a defeat to Merck & Co by refusing to hear its appeal of a ruling that it had dishonestly obtained patent rights and could not collect a $200 million verdict against rival drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc in a dispute involving blockbuster hepatitis C drugs.

A jury awarded Merck $200 million in 2016 after finding Gilead's Hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni infringed two of its patents, but a judge later ruled the patents unenforceable because of a pattern of misconduct by Merck including lying under oath by one of its in-house lawyers.

Merck had urged the Supreme Court to place limits on the doctrine of "unclean hands" that can prevent plaintiffs from winning lawsuits if they acted in bad faith.

Direct-acting anti-viral medications like Gilead's Sovaldi and Harvoni have revolutionized treatment of hepatitis C, with cure rates of more than 90 percent. Merck holds patents that it has said cover a compound that is the foundation for all major antiviral treatments for chronic hepatitis C.

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