Magistrate Finds Proper Purpose for FTC Subpoena in Generic Drug Case


Late last month, we noted a highly unusual decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay in the District of Columbia to order the Federal Trade Commission to respond to interrogatories about a subpoena it had issued to Paul Bisaro, the CEO of Watson Pharmaceuticals, in a generic-drug investigation.

Normally, that sort of inquiry into the motivations behind an FTC subpoena is off limits. The only exception, which is rarely invoked, is that limited discovery can be ordered to ensure that enforcement of the subpoena would not amount to an abuse of process.

Kay’s inquiry seems to have found nothing terribly amiss in the FTC’s motivations for the subpoena, as he has just recommended to U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly that the subpoena to Bisaro should be enforced. Judge Kollar-Kotelly had referred the dispute to Kay, and his findings can now be appealed to Judge Kollar-Kotelly.

Kay said that the case law requires that the court enforce the subpoena, as long as the FTC could show a proper purpose for it, even though there were allegations that the subpoena also had an improper purpose.

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