9th Cir. Affirms To Drop Plavix Makers’ Injunction Case

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Last week, a 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel affirmed the decision of the district court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by pharmaceutical companies seeking an injunction to drop Hawaii state court litigation against Plavix, a medication used help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The State of Hawaii filed a lawsuit in 2014 against the manufacturers alleging deceptive marketing practices. The state claimed that the companies knew about the worse clinical outcomes associated with Plavix when taken by a certain genetic variation, a group that includes a significant portion of Hawaii’s population.

Earlier this year, in January, the companies filed a federal court lawsuit asking for an injunction against the state court proceeding, disputing that the case violated their constitutional right to free speech.

The district court dismissed the suit, invoking the Younger abstention doctrine that generally bars federal courts from restraining state criminal prosecutions.

The 9th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s decision stating that the Hawaii action fell within the class of cases because the action was brought “under a statute that punishes those who engage in deceptive acts in commerce, and the state sought civil penalties and punitive damages to sanction the companies for their allegedly deceptive labeling practices.

The panel also noted that the case did not fall within Younger’s extraordinary circumstances exception, rejecting the companies’ concerns raised during the arguments.

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