Cases & Deals

Celgene wins complete defense verdict in case filed by health insurer, Humana Inc., relating to off-label use of cancer medications

Client(s) Celgene Corporation

On March 2, 2023, Jones Day prevailed in a five-week jury trial on behalf of Celgene Corporation in a lawsuit brought by health insurance company Humana, Inc. Humana filed the case in Pike County Circuit Court in Pikeville, Kentucky, seeking damages from Celgene for off-label prescriptions of Celgene's medications Thalomid® and Revlimid®—which were widely prescribed off-label to treat various cancers and other conditions. Humana asserted that Celgene caused doctors to write these off-label prescriptions through purportedly improper promotional efforts, sponsorship of clinical trials, and actions that allegedly corrupted doctors' decision-making. Humana sought $739 million in compensatory damages and up to $6 billion in punitive damages for the off-label prescriptions that it covered from 2000-2018. Humana asserted causes of action for fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent omission, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and violations of New Jersey's RICO statute.

Prior to trial, Humana dismissed its breach of contract and fraudulent inducement claims and the Court granted Celgene's motion for summary judgment on the New Jersey RICO claims.

The trial in the Kentucky action began on January 30, 2023, and involved testimony from 32 witnesses, including 13 expert witnesses some of whom were leading oncologists from across the United States. After five weeks of trial, the jury deliberated for less than two hours before finding in favor of Celgene on all of the causes of action before it. Humana's unjust enrichment claim remained pending before the Court.

Jones Day also filed a related breach of contract action in Delaware Superior Court on behalf of Celgene against Humana subsidiary, Humana Pharmacy, Inc. ("HPI").  In the Delaware action, Celgene alleged that HPI violated the contractual anti-assignment clause by assigning its claims against Celgene to Humana, so that Humana could prosecute HPI's claims in the Kentucky action. On May 31, 2023, the Delaware Court granted Celgene's motion for summary judgment as to HPI's liability on Celgene's claim for breach of contract and denied HPI's motion for summary judgment as to liability and damages.

On July 19, 2023, Humana agreed to drop its remaining unjust enrichment claim as well as any appeal in the Kentucky case in exchange for Celgene dropping its claim for breach of contract in the Delaware action. Both cases were subsequently dismissed.

Humana Inc. v. Celgene Corp., No. 18-CI-00617 (Pike Cty. Cir. Ct., Ky.); Celgene Corp. v. Humana Pharmacy, Inc., No. N20C-05-145 EMD [CCLD] (Del. Sup. Ct.)