$52.5 million settlement against Sepracor approved

Judge Morris E. Lasker of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts has granted final approval of a $52.5 million settlement in two separate but related securities class actions against Sepracor Inc., a Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company.

The lawsuits arose from Sepracor's alleged concealment of safety concerns surrounding its new antihistamine candidate, Soltara, that was rejected by the FDA for marketing approval in March 2002. The settlement is the third-largest settlement in a securities fraud case against a bio-technology company concerning a drug approval.

The suit was maintained by Staro Asset Management, LLC on behalf of a debt class consisting of holders of Sepracor's convertible debt securities, and by Westmont Venture Partners, LLC on behalf of an equity class consisting of holders of Sepracor's common stock, call options and put options.

The two classes were represented by a team of attorneys from Berger & Montague, P.C. of Philadelphia; and Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, LLP, New York, led by Sherrie R. Savett of Berger & Montague and Daniel W. Krasner of Wolf Haldenstein. Berger & Montague shareholder Gary E. Cantor and associate Joshua C. Schumacher, and Wolf Haldenstein partner David L. Wales and associate Stacey T. Kelly were also heavily involved in the prosecution of this action.

A preliminary settlement agreement was reached between the parties in April 2007 after nearly five years of litigation. Lead plaintiff's attorney for the debt class, Sherrie R. Savett of Berger & Montague, noted that "the settlement is excellent for the classes. If we had gone to trial, there would have been a battle of conflicting medical and scientific experts given the multitude of complex scientific issues surrounding the development of Sepracor's new drug candidate. Additionally, economic experts would have quarreled about the proper measure of damages to the two classes caused by Sepracor's failure to obtain approval for its highly touted antihistamine drug."

This settlement is the second announced within the last week by Berger & Montague. On September 4, the firm announced a settlement valued at $67-$80 million against the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, its CEO and six investment firms.

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