angiogenesis.jpgA jury rejected the claims of Kourosh Dastgheib, an ophthalmologist who accused Genentech of reneging on a promise to pay him royalties from the drug in exchange for his research slides of human eye specimens. Dastgheib v. Genentech Inc., U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (04CV01283).

While Dastgheib’s lawyers said he was entitled to at least $1.2 billion, the jury left him empty-handed. Dastgheib claimed the company couldn’t have developed the successful drug without his underlying research and claimed it denied him royalties and recognition for his contribution. Genentech denied making the agreement and said Dastgheib’s research had little impact on its development of the drug. Lucentis, introduced June 30, had $153 million in third-quarter sales for Genentech.

Lucentis (ranibizumab) is an ophthalmic drug used to treat the wet form of age-related macular degeneration. Lucentis is an antibody fragment to Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) and is designed to bind to and inhibit VEGF, a protein that plays a role in angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels). It works by keeping new blood vessels from forming under the retina (a sensory membrane that lines the inside of the eye). In people with a certain type of eye disease, new blood vessels grow under the retina where they leak blood and fluid. This is known as the “wet form” of macular degeneration.

Lawyers argued that Dastgheib was owed at least $1.2 billion, a third of the drug’s estimated $3.5 billion value. An attorney for Genentech, argued the amount was closer to $48,000 using the company’s pay scale for independent scientists. Genentech initially paid Dastgheib $2,000 for five days’ worth of work on the project.

Dastgheib claimed that he had provided “vitally important” research to Genentech that led to its development of Lucentis and Genentech reneged on its promise to give him 1 percent of its gross revenues and professional recognition for his role in discovering the drug.

Dastgheib had argued he reviewed more than 90,000 human eye specimens before coming up with a theory linking a form of eye disease known as macular degeneration to VEGF. Dastgheib claims that Genentech used the slides as the basis for its research and omitted Dastgheib’s involvement both from articles about the drug and its NDA application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Genentech claims that it had already identified the VEGF factor through its own research and collaborations with outside scientists. It didn’t help that Dastgheib didn’t have anyone corroborate his story.

In the end, Dastgheib was unable to prove his claim and, after a 12-day trial before U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno, the jury rejected all three of Dastgheib’s claims — fraud, unjust enrichment and unfair trade practices. The next time, you can bet he’ll ask for all the details in ink.

  Print This Post Print This Post  

Comments are closed.