J&J Sues Boehringer Ingelheim Over Arbitration Dispute

Johnson & Johnson sued a unit of rival drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim Gmbh over whether a dispute about an agreement must be heard by an arbitrator.

Officials of New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J, the world’s biggest seller of health-care products, want a Delaware judge to force Boehringer’s U.S. subsidiary to submit a contract dispute to arbitration, according to court filings. The actual complaint in the case was filed under seal yesterday.

J&J is seeking a “preliminary injunction in aid of arbitration of breach of contract,” according to the case’s cover sheet, which was publicly filed.

Jennifer Forsyth, a U.S.-based spokeswoman for Boehringer, didn’t immediately return a call for comment on the suit. Kellie McLaughlin, a spokeswoman for J&J’s Alza Corp. unit, declined to comment on the case in a phone interview.

The closely held Boehringer, based in Ingelheim, Germany, won U.S. approval in July for a lung-cancer therapy designed to work with a gene test that pinpoints which patients will best respond to the medication. Lung cancer is the leading cause of U.S. cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

J&J’s suit seeking to enforce the arbitration agreement was filed under seal in Delaware Chancery Court in Wilmington. Other filings in the case outlined the general nature of the suit.

Doxil Shortage

J&J and Boehringer have done business in the past in connection with the cancer medicine Doxil. Boehringer’s Ben Venue Laboratories factory in Bedford, Ohio, produced the drug for J&J, the Wall Street Journal newspaper reported in 2011.

Last year, J&J officials faced a shortage of Doxil after Boehringer officials shut down production at the Ohio plant in the wake of regulators’ concerns about product quality. J&J officials said in April 2012 they were planning to transfer the manufacturing of the cancer drug to another supplier.

The Delaware case is Alza Corp. v. Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corporation, 8877, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington).

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