Mylan sues Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over stories

Chris Dickerson Aug. 19, 2009, 1:31pm

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - Generic drugmaker Mylan has filed a lawsuit against the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over stories that triggered an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration.

Mylan filed the suit Tuesday in West Virginia's Monongalia County Circuit Court against PG Publishing Company dba Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, reporters Patricia Sabatini and Len Boselovic and three John Does.

The suit says a July 26 Post-Gazette story about Mylan's Morgantown plant titled "Mylan workers overrode drug quality controls" written by Sabatini and Boselovic was based primarily on a "confidential internal report" that was wrongfully obtained and mischaracterized. Mylan believes the defendants have other confidential materials that protected both by attorney-client and work product privilege "and are so labeled in bold type."

"The article also contains numerous statements that adversely affect the business reputation of Mylan; impugn the integrity of its manufacturing and quality control procedures; impugn the integrity of management personnel; and thereby threaten current and prospective business relationships in the highly competitive market of generic pharmaceuticals," the suit states. It goes on to say the Post-Gazette story and follow-up articles are "sensational and misleading articles based on improperly obtained and misconstrued confidential, proprietary and/or privileged internal documents" creating the "false appearance" of quality and regulatory issues.

The complaint says the FDA investigated Mylan after the Post-Gazette story was published, but FDA officials observed "no significant discrepancies and closed its investigation."

Reporters Sabatini and Boselovic, the suit claims, also induced Mylan employees to violate company policy and provide confidential information to them and tried to influence Mylan employees for at least a two-month period.

The lawsuit seeks, among other things, the return of the internal confidential and proprietary documents in the Post-Gazette's possession that were improperly obtained without Mylan's knowledge or consent.

Mylan also seeks compensatory and exemplary damages, attorney fees, court costs and other relief.

"We are very disappointed that this situation occurred and reached this level, however, we have no other alternative but to address this type of misconduct," Mylan Chairman and CEO Robert Coury said in a prepared statement. Company officials would have no further comment on the lawsuit, he said.

The case was filed by attorneys with the Pittsburgh law firm of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti.

Mylan and the Post-Gazette have a history.

When Mylan announced the promotion of Heather Bresch to COO in 2007, she said she had an MBA degree from West Virginia University. The newspaper had a story later questioning the degree.

A panel later concluded that WVU officials falsified Bresch's academic records to make it seem as if she finished the degree.

"The changes included adding 22 credits and grades 'pulled from thin air' to her transcript," the Post-Gazette later reported. "Officials then awarded her a degree retroactively that she did not earn."

After the report, Bresch's degree was revoked. And WVU President Michael Garrison, the university's provost and business school dean resigned.

Mylan is based in Canonsburg, Pa., between Morgantown and Pittsburgh.

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