“Catch and Kill” Scheme Alleged in Cancer Drug Suits Against Billionaire Inventor Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong


On April 3, 2019, Hueston Hennigan on behalf of client Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc filed litigation against billionaire inventor, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. The lawsuit details what Sorrento believes was a scheme to “catch and kill” a cancer drug that—had it been brought to market as planned—would have saved patients, hospitals, and the United States government in excess of $1 billion.

As alleged in the Complaint, the “catch and kill” operation involved Soon-Shiong’s May 2015 acquisition from Sorrento of a drug called Cynviloq™—a bioequivalent to the blockbuster chemotherapy drug Abraxane, which Soon-Shiong had invented and sold to Celgene Corp. in 2010 for $2.9 billion.  Through that acquisition, Soon-Shiong became Celgene’s single largest individual shareholder.

As further detailed in the Complaint, Sorrento alleges that Soon-Shiong made false representations about his intent to market and develop Cyvniloq when he purchased it from Sorrento in 2015; in fact, the Complaint alleges, Soon-Shiong made the purchase to keep it out of the hands of Celgene’s competitors in order to preserve his financial interests as Celgene’s largest individual shareholder.

Sorrento also filed a related $1 billion arbitration demand against Soon-Shiong and his company, NantPharma LLC, seeking damages and punitive damages for fraud and breach of contract.

As noted in the Wall Street Journal, “Dr. Soon-Shiong promised Sorrento that he would ensure Cynviloq was approved and launched in the U.S. Instead, he and his companies stopped development in what the complaint termed a “catch and kill” scheme because Cynviloq’s success would have hurt sales of the drug he invented, Abraxane.”

“Through this litigation, Sorrento seeks to hold Defendants accountable for executing a scheme that kept a promising cancer drug off the market,” said lead counsel. “As alleged, not only did this cause over $1 billion in damages to Sorrento, it prevented patients from having access to an affordable alternative to a leading chemotherapy drug.”

The Hueston Hennigan team is led by John Hueston.

The story is covered in numerous publications including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Financial Times, Los Angeles Times, Endpoint News, FierceBiotech, Daily Journal, and Law360.