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Beckman Coulter Goes to Court to Sell its BNP Assay

NEW YORK (360Dx) – Beckman Coulter today said that it plans to file a legal request to affirm its right to sell a natriuretic peptide assay directly to its customers.

The assay is currently sold exclusively by Quidel, following its acquisition of Alere's B-type naturietic peptide (BNP) assay business in October to satisfy regulatory approval of Abbott's $5.3 billion purchase of Alere. The assay for BNP, a hormone produced by the heart, runs on Beckman Coulter analyzers, and the company said that it plans to sell it directly to its customers using its Access immunoassay systems. As part of that plan, it will request today "the San Diego courts … [to] clarify and enforce Beckman Coulter's rights" to sell the assay to its customers.

On deadline it is unclear in which court the firm will file its request.

In a statement, Quidel called Beckman's claims "meritless and in opposition to Beckman's longstanding strategy of honoring the supply agreement with its previous partners —Alere and Biosite — over the last 14 years, and merely a tool in an effort to purchase the BNP assay business from Quidel. Quidel plans to vigorously defend the validity of the supply agreement and is confident in its legal position."

Under the supply agreement — acquired by Alere from Biosite, then acquired by Quidel from Alere — Quidel provides Beckman Coulter certain proprietary antibodies, while Beckman Coulter manufactures the assays, which it sells to Quidel.

The assays are then sold to customers using Beckman analyzers. The antibodies are developed under a license with Scios, and the supply agreement, Quidel said, including its non-compete provision, remains in effect as long as the Scios license is in effect.

Quidel added that in "recent weeks" its board has unanimously rejected offers by Danaher, the parent firm of Beckman Coulter, to acquire the BNP assay business after finding Danaher's proposal "inadequate." Quidel said that the execution of its long-term strategy, which includes the integration of its recent acquisitions "will create substantial long-term value for Quidel's shareholders.

In afternoon trading on the Nasdaq, Quidel's shares were down more than 12 percent at $35.