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Asahi Kasei Pharma Corp. v. Actelion Ltd.

California Court of Appeal
222 Cal. App. 4th 945 (2014)


Asahi Kasei Pharma Corporation (Asahi) (plaintiff) signed a licensing contract with CoTherix, Inc. (CoTherix). The contract provided that CoTherix would assist Asahi with developing and marketing Asahi’s drug to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Actelion Limited (Actelion) (defendant) marketed a competing PAH drug. Actelion acquired CoTherix and informed Asahi that it would be discontinuing the development of Asahi’s drug. Asahi brought suit against Actelion and three Actelion executives for intentional interference with contractual relations. Asahi presented evidence that Actelion acquired CoTherix solely because it saw Asahi’s drug as a threat to Actelion’s market dominance. The trial court found in favor of Asahi and awarded Asahi almost $550 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages. Actelion appealed, arguing that as of its acquisition of CoTherix it was no longer a disinterested third party to the Asahi-CoTherix contract. As a result, Actelion argued, it could not be liable for contractual interference as of that date.

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