Beckman takes Quidel to court over ex-Alere assays

Quidel gave Beckman’s claims short shrift, calling the case “meritless.”

Beckman Coulter has begun legal action to gain the right to sell B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) assays directly. The court case follows Alere’s decision to sell its BNP assay business and associated supply agreements to Quidel to clear antitrust barriers to its takeover by Abbott Laboratories.

Quidel originally disclosed a deal to buy the BNP assay business in July. Then, in September, Quidel said it had amended its deal with Alere to secure direct commercial responsibility for the sale of BNP assays that run on Beckman analyzers. The revisions bumped up the value of the deal from $440 million to $680 million. 

The deal went through in the first week of last month. But, in Quidel’s telling of events, Beckman then tried to buy the BNP business, only for the San Diego-based diagnostic maker’s board to unanimously reject the offer. Quidel said the proposal was inadequate, particularly as it sees the integration of the acquired assets as central to its long-term strategy.

Details of the discussions came to light after Beckman filed papers seeking the right to sell the assays directly to its customers. Beckman is already involved in two points in the BNP assay supply chain. The company manufacturers the assays and sells the analyzers on which they run. Between these two steps, Beckman sells the assays to Quidel, which, in turn, sells the products for use on Beckman analyzers.

“Beckman Coulter customers have access to a BNP assay which, although developed and manufactured by Beckman Coulter, is sold exclusively by Quidel and its designated distributors,” Beckman wrote in a statement detailing the legal action.

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Quidel gave Beckman’s claims short shrift, calling the case “meritless” and “merely a tool in an effort to purchase the BNP assay business” in a release stating its intent to stand up to the legal challenge.

The release points to Beckman’s agreements with Biosite and later Alere to argue that its attempt to gain the right to sell the assays goes against its long-standing strategy.