IQVIA-Veeva litigation over customer master-data records grinds on

Now two-plus years on, the dispute over physician databases shows no sign of resolution


In Western literature, “Jarndyce v Jarndyce” (from a novel by Charles Dickens) is code for court case that ground on for so long that the legal costs absorbed the value of an estate. With IQVIA v Veeva (and the countersuit of Veeva), the “estate” is nowhere near exhausted, but, after more than two years of litigation, seems no closer to resolution.

The case (2:17-cv-00177-CCC-MF, in federal district court in New Jersey) started with IQVIA (then Quintiles IMS) accusing Veeva of misappropriating IQVIA data assets in IQVIA’s OneKey product, a global database of physician reference data—the data used by pharma sales and marketing teams around the world to communicate with prescribers. The litigation arose soon after Veeva started up a competing product, now called Veeva OpenData, and after IQVIA sued, Veeva filed a counterclaim asserting antitrust and unfair competition violations.

Now, after 295 filings, motions, opinions and other legal actions, the status of the case is a dispute over discovery (the retrieval of records by defendants), with IQVIA claiming that Veeva’s alleged destruction of documents should be severely sanctioned by the court, and Veeva claiming that “terabytes” of data and records have already been produced, while complaining that specific claims of data misappropriation still have not been detailed by IQVIA.

The contending law firms are getting pretty florid: “it is crystal clear that Veeva … intentionally and permanently deleted evidence that is central to IQVIA’s claims,” says IQVIA court filings, while Veeva asserts that “IQVIA has a long history of abusing its monopoly position to limit customers and competition.” In the next few weeks, a special master (judge) is to rule on these discovery issues; a jury trial is not expected until 2021.

“IQVIA is an entrenched monopolist. Its motion is completely baseless,” said Josh Faddis, SVP and general counsel for Veeva. “It is an attempt to keep the merits of this case from being heard so that IQVIA can continue its abusive exclusionary conduct that harms the life sciences industry and ultimately harms patients.” Veeva is in the process of expanding its countersuit to include other Veeva products (Nitro and Andi) that interface with OpenData.

In this era of intrusive social media tracking and Big Data analytics, it might seem a trivial task to locate and identify the half-million or so prescribers in the US, so that sales reps know whose door to knock on. But physician reference data, and the master data management (MDM) systems that organize it, can have significant value to pharma companies. Current MDM systems can track the affiliations of prescribers (as doctor groups become affiliated with health systems, which have their own relationships with drug distributors); and the effort to identify key opinion leaders in medicine is never-ending. IQVIA, Veeva and others expend considerable effort in keeping data up to date and, as the litigation shows, they put a high value on that undertaking.