A Medical Device Daily

A World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) arbitration panel has ruled in favor of Boston Scientific (Natick, Massachusetts), finding that the company's Liberte and Taxus stents do not infringe any patents held by its former Israeli stent-supply partner, Medinol (Tel Aviv).

Medinol requested the arbitration as part of its 2005 settlement with Boston Scientific, alleging that the Liberté and Taxus stents infringed some of its U.S. and European patents. Medinol has the right to appeal the decision to another WIPO panel.

In 2005, Boston Scientific agreed to settle a long-standing dispute by paying Medinol $750 million, which the company said at the time was its largest-ever legal payout to another firm. Medinol had been seeking a much larger amount, reportedly in the range of $4 billion to $5 billion (Medical Device Daily, Sept. 23, 2005).

The legal battle began in 2001 after Boston Scientific tried to acquire Medinol, which was providing it stents in an effort, it said, to secure its line of supply. But the Israeli firm said that the price offered by the U.S. firm fell short of its value.

Medinol then sued, charging that Boston Scientific had secretly established another facility in Ireland in the 1990s to provide an alternate supply of stents and had appropriated the Medinol technology. Boston Scientific responded with its own countersuits.

In other legal action: A coalition of healthcare providers filed suit against the state of California to halt a 10% cut in Medi-Cal and Denti-Cal payments slated to take effect July 1.

In February, the legislature approved, and the governor signed into law, a total of $1.3 billion in cuts to the Medi-Cal program in an effort to stem the state's budget crisis. The cuts are scheduled to take effect July 1 unless the court intervenes. In addition, the June 19 and August Medi-Cal payments to hospitals, pharmacists and adult day healthcare providers are expected to be delayed, the coalition reported.

The class-action lawsuit seeks an immediate injunction to block the reduction in Medi-Cal payments. The suit was filed jointly by the California Medical Association (CMA), the California Hospital Association, the California Dental Association, the California Association for Adult Day Services, the American College of Emergency Physicians, State Chapter of California, the California Pharmacists Association, and the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems.

"If allowed to go into effect, these cuts will devastate the Medi-Cal program as care to our most vulnerable population will be jeopardized," said Craig Cannizzo, lead plaintiff counsel with Hooper, Lundy & Bookman.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, contends that the planned payment cuts violate state and federal laws that require that Medi-Cal payments "must be sufficient to enlist enough providers so that services under the state's Medicaid plan are available to recipients at least to the extent that those services are available to the general public."

"Medi-Cal already doesn't cover the cost of providing care," said Richard Frankenstein, MD, president of the CMA. "This chronic underfunding is forcing many doctors to leave the Medi-Cal program, which in turn deprives these vulnerable patients access to primary and preventative medical care. If these cuts take effect, Medi-Cal patients will be forced to seek care in already overcrowded hospital emergency rooms, which undermines access to care for all Californians."