Industry focus: Healthcare and life sciences in Belgium

Allen & Overy LLP

Allen & Overy LLP's life sciences practice combines corporate, IP, antitrust and regulatory expertise to assist clients in the sector, which include global pharmaceutical and biotech companies as well as spin-offs and start-ups. The diverse practice group is instructed on a range of matters from disputes, projects, strategic advice and transactions. Senior counsel Geert Glas is a key name to note, particularly for IP advice. Recently promoted counsel Eveline Van Keymeulen, who splits her time between the firm's Paris and Brussels office, is a key name for EU and national regulatory advice. Other changes to the team include the promotion of Edward Taelman to senior associate.

Bird & Bird

The life sciences and healthcare practice at Bird & Bird acts for a client list including BCI Pharma, Epics Therapeutic and Express Scripts. The team is regularly instructed by Pfizer and is assisting with highly sensitive negotiations concerning vaccines contracts with several governments, as well as with general advice relating to tendering procedures. It advised Bio.be and pharma.be on EU regulatory framework issues regarding cells and tissues; the department also advises the latter on public procurement, reimbursement issues and clinical trials. Co-head of the firm's global life sciences group, Marc Martens, heads the practice and has particular experience advising on biotech products and advanced therapies. Recently promoted counsel Nicolas Carbonnelle is a key point of contact for the coordination of cross-border projects.

Crowell & Moring

'The premier firm for pharmaceutical patent litigation',  according to one client, the life sciences group at Crowell & Moring attracts praise for its 'significant experience and a great feeling for how the courts will react to a submission'. The group represented Mylan and Sandoz before the Court of Appeal, securing the lifting of an injunction on the clients' sale of Tadalafil. The 'vastly experienced' Kristof Roox, who 'is fantastic as an advocate and not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in', heads the practice, which includes Jan-Diederik Lindemans, who is singled out for his 'abundant experience and deep analyses', and was bolstered by the arrival of IP-focused senior counsel Gunther Meyer from Eversheds Sutherland (Belgium) CVBA (a member of Eversheds Sutherland). Senior associate Jurgen Figys is another name to note. Other changes to the team include the arrival of Evelina Roegiers from Loyens & Loeff and the departure of Christian Dekoninck to Taylor Wessing.

HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER

Attracting praise for its 'professional approach', IP boutique HOYNG ROKH MONEGIER has 'in-depth knowledge of the pharmaceutical business environment and stakeholders'. The team acts for high-profile clients including Daiichi Sankyo on patent, trade mark and regulatory issues in Belgium. The group is frequently instructed in high-value patent litigation; 'highly experienced and knowledgeable' practice head Liesbeth Weynants represented Boehringer Inghelheim in revocation proceedings brought by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries concerning its blockbuster COPD drug Spiriva. In another work highlight, a team led by Carina Gommers acted for St. Jude Medical in a trade mark dispute against OrbusNeich. Other key names to note include Benoît Strowel,'whom you can rely on to guide you through the litigation landscape', Steven Cattoor, who leads a team assisting Sequenom and Illumina with their patent enforcement strategy, and Carl De Meyer, who is highlighted for international IP litigation.

Van Bael & Bellis

Van Bael & Bellis has 'a good mix of regulatory, competition, privacy and IP lawyers well versed in the specificities of the life sciences sector'. The practice acts for large global pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical devices companies, among others. Catherine Longeval attracts praise for 'fighting very hard for her client's cases' and 'will not hesitate to go in the trenches to look for a solution', and is particularly noted for her expertise in regulatory matters and product liability. Peter L’Ecluse jointly heads the practice alongside Longeval and has a broad practice encompassing regulatory, competition and IP issues. David Hull and recently promoted senior counsel Michael Clancy are highlighted for handling competition law matters for life sciences sector clients. Koen T’Syen was recently promoted to counsel.

ALTIUS

The life sciences team at ALTIUS continues to act for key national and multinational players in the sector in contentious and non-contentious matters. The group represented Genentech in biosimilar litigation against Pfizer relating to patent protection for Herceptin, which is used in the treatment of cancer. Christophe Ronse heads up the practice and is best known for pharmaceutical patent litigation. Phillippe de Jong is another key name to note and has particular experience advising on the protection of plant biotechnological inventions and Nagoya Protocol compliance.

Covington & Burling LLP

Covington & Burling LLP is also ranked.

DLA Piper

DLA Piper's life sciences sector group employs a multi-disciplinary approach, assisting its impressive client roster with a range of instructions including corporate, competition, employment, regulatory and IP-related matters. It counts Pfizer and Merck & Co. among its clients, and assisted the former with the coordination of multi-jurisdictional 'pay for delay' litigation, and recently advised the latter on corporate matters. Bertold Bär-Bouyssière and counsel Jean-Louis Kerrels jointly head up the practice.

Loyens & Loeff

The healthcare and life sciences team at Loyens & Loeff regularly handles a range of contentious and non-contentious matters including regulatory, tax, corporate and administrative considerations. The group's client roster spans medical device manufacturers, biotech and pharmaceutical companies to healthcare entrepreneurs and organisations. A team led by Yves Van Couter is instructed by Arthrex to advise on commercial, regulatory and data protection issues pertaining to the launch of specialised medical software in Belgium and the Netherlands. Other clients include investment firms Cinven and Bain Capital and the academic organisation for dentists, the International Team for Implantology. Filip Saelens heads up the practice, which includes new hire Valentijn De Boe, who joined from Allen & Overy LLPEvelina Roegiers is now with Crowell & Moring.

NautaDutilh

NautaDutilh's life sciences group has a range of experience acting for both global companies and start-ups and spin-offs in the industry. It successfully represented GlaxoSmithKline in a dispute with Sandoz concerning the validity of the client's purple trade mark for inhalers. The group is also assisting Sanofi with its €3.9bn takeover of Ablynx. Florence Verhoestraete heads the practice and focuses on IP and unfair competition. Senior associate Christel Brion regularly acts for start-ups, SMEs, universities and research institutes, including Univercells and Novosanis.

Simmons & Simmons

Simmons & Simmons combines life sciences sector expertise with its strength across regulatory, IP, competition and public procurement. The group is regularly instructed on both strategic and contentious matters. Practice head Olivier Mignolet and counsel Annabelle Bruyndonckx are key practitioners and are highlighted for their commercial and regulatory expertise respectively.

Stibbe

Stibbe's broad expertise spans the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, life sciences, healthcare and medical device sectors. It has considerable IP and regulatory experience, as well as the ability to leverage the firm's wider full service capabilities in other areas. A team led by practice head Ignace Vernimme is representing Celltrion in patent infringement claims brought by Roche, Genentech, and Biogen relating to the client's biosimilar product, Truxima. In another work highlight, the department is acting for Perrigo in an arbitration concerning fraud and breach of warranties brought against the former owner of the company, Omega Pharma Invest. Of counsel Manuel Campolini is also highlighted for his litigation and regulatory capabilities.

CMS

The healthcare and life sciences team at CMS acts for hospitals, healthcare providers and public authorities, as well as pharmaceutical companies, with clients including the Hospital of Charleroi, the European Commission, Aspen Pharmacare and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company. Virginie Dor, who has particular expertise in public procurement, heads up the practice alongside counsel Bruno FonteynAnnabelle Lepièce is a key name to note for competition law.

Jones Day

The healthcare and life sciences team at Jones Day is headed by Cristiana Spontoni, who co-heads the firm's practice globally, and counts AbbVie, Cellectis and GE Healthcare as clients. It is particularly known for assisting clients with a range of regulatory, corporate, investment and competition matters. The group acted for Astellas Pharma on its €800m cross-border acquisition of Ogeda, including handling antitrust, life sciences, IP and tax elements. It has also been advising several clients, including Acelity Group, on GDPR compliance.

Osborne Clarke

The life sciences group at Osborne Clarke is well known for handling corporate, commercial, financing and regulatory advice in the space and provides 'a clear, internal alignment and communication on projects that are cross-functional'. A team, led by corporate partner David Haex, acted for TiGenix on the €520m public takeover bid by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.

Quinz

Niche firm Quinz has significant life science expertise, particularly in contractual and compliance matters, and attracts praise for its 'rapid turnaround times' and the 'high quality of its work'. Olivier Van Obberghen is leading advice to Sarepta Therapeutics on European compliance matters ahead of the launch of its first product on the EU market. The group is also instructed by Merck & Co. to assist with issues relating to its international research projects, including advising on contracts, the regulatory framework for clinical trials and data protection. Pieter Wyckmans heads up the practice alongside Van Obberghen. Marie De Vulder left for an in-house role.