Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International Law
Greg Williams
Firm:
Office:
Level 15
1 Bligh Street
NSW 2000
City:
Sydney
Country:
Australia
Tel:
+61 2 9353 4798
Fax:
+61 2 8220 6700

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Life Sciences

Greg Williams specialises in class actions and product liability defence and regulatory advice for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. He has acted in significant class actions, including the Vioxx class action, the Gravigard class action and the Storm Financial class action. He is currently acting for Volkswagen in diesel emissions class actions. Greg advises pharmaceutical companies in relation to regulatory issues and has particular expertise in Australia’s pharmaceutical reimbursement system, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

I have spent 20 years at Clayton Utz acting in the defence of class actions and providing regulatory advice to my pharmaceutical and medical device clients. I gain immense satisfaction from helping clients to bring important products to Australia.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO FOCUS YOUR PRACTICE ON THE LIFE SCIENCES SECTOR?

I have a background in science, having earned an MSc in biochemistry before I finished my law degree. I find the work I do with my pharmaceutical and medical device clients extremely interesting, particularly when I am working with clients who are looking to bring innovative therapies to market. The reimbursement of costly, but often life-saving medicines is one of the great challenges of our age. It is very intellectually satisfying to work with my clients to meet that challenge.

WHICH AREAS OF THE LIFE SCIENCES SECTOR ARE PARTICULARLY LITIGIOUS IN THE AUSTRALIAN MARKET AT THE MOMENT?

Medical devices continue to be the area of greatest focus in product liability litigation. On the other hand, plaintiff lawyers seem reluctant to bring cases in respect of prescription medicines. Prescription medicines are thoroughly tested before they are brought to market, but it is much more difficult to conduct such tests for medical devices.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES CURRENTLY FACING PRACTITIONERS IN THE REGULATORY SPACE?

From a regulatory perspective, I see biosimilar medicines as the next great frontier. The Australian government is actively promoting the uptake of biosimilar medicines. They give rise to range of regulatory and litigation issues which I think have yet to play out in the Australian market.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT EFFECTS WILL THE RECENT POLICY MOVEMENT AROUND THE PRICING AND REIMBURSEMENT SYSTEM IN AUSTRALIA HAVE IN THE LONG TERM?

The strategic agreement between the Australian government and Medicines Australia, reached in May 2017, will set the agenda for the pricing and reimbursement of prescription medicines over the next five years. Its cost saving measures will influence strategy for many pharmaceutical companies.

HOW DO YOU THINK THE ENTRY OF BIOSIMILARS INTO THE MARKET WILL AFFECT PRICING AND REIMBURSEMENT ISSUES?

A critical question for the Australian regulatory environment is the extent to which government efforts to promote the uptake of biosimilars (and to thereby generate cost savings to the government through the price disclosure mechanism) are successful. This is a complex area which mixes law, policy and clinical practice and deserves to be watched closely.

HOW HAS THE LANDSCAPE OF THE LITIGATION FUNDING INDUSTRY CHANGED TO ACCOMMODATE THE INCREASE IN CLASS ACTION LITIGATIONS?

The financial viability of class actions in Australia is largely underwritten by the existence of a viable litigation funding industry. One of the interesting issues for companies in the life sciences space is the extent to which litigation funders see value in underwriting products related litigation. At present, there are many other forms of litigation which appear – on the face of it – more lucrative and lower-risk.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Life Sciences: Regulatory

Greg Williams has over 15 years’ experience providing advice to numerous Australian and overseas pharmaceutical and medical device companies on all aspects of the product life cycle, including product registration, reimbursement, advertising disputes, and product safety and recalls, extending to managing exposure to risk in relation to bribery and corruption.

In the regulatory sphere he has particular expertise in providing strategic advice to a number of leading pharmaceutical companies in relation to pricing and reimbursement issues, and has assisted a number of clients to navigate difficult and contentious Australian reimbursement applications. He also advises about the risks and compliance issues arising from interactions with healthcare professionals.

In the litigation sphere Greg has extensive experience in the defence of product liability claims and class actions. He has been involved in the defence of several prominent pharmaceutical and medical device product liability claims, including the Australian Vioxx class action. Greg acted as junior counsel in the three-month first instance Federal Court trial in the Vioxx class action.

In addition to his legal qualifications, Greg has a master’s degree in biochemistry. His is a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel and the Defense Research Institute.

WWL says: Greg Williams is "a greatly skilled and knowledgeable lawyer" who is internationally recognised as a leader in regulatory matters.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Life Sciences which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Life Sciences: Product Liability

Greg Williams has over 15 years’ experience providing advice to numerous Australian and overseas pharmaceutical and medical device companies on all aspects of the product life cycle, including product registration, reimbursement, advertising disputes, and product safety and recalls, extending to managing exposure to risk in relation to bribery and corruption.

In the regulatory sphere he has particular expertise in providing strategic advice to a number of leading pharmaceutical companies in relation to pricing and reimbursement issues, and has assisted a number of clients to navigate difficult and contentious Australian reimbursement applications. He also advises about the risks and compliance issues arising from interactions with healthcare professionals.

In the litigation sphere Greg has extensive experience in the defence of product liability claims and class actions. He has been involved in the defence of several prominent pharmaceutical and medical device product liability claims, including the Australian Vioxx class action. Greg acted as junior counsel in the three-month first instance Federal Court trial in the Vioxx class action.

In addition to his legal qualifications, Greg has a master’s degree in biochemistry. His is a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel and the Defense Research Institute.

WWL says: Greg Williams is commended by sources for being an "excellent, smart and sophisticated" practitioner who "knows his jurisdiction inside out".

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Life Sciences which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Product Liability Defence

Greg Williams is internationally recognised as an experienced product liability and class actions lawyer. He also advises the pharmaceutical industry on regulatory issues, advertising and labelling requirements and product safety issues.

Greg has extensive experience in defending and resolving class actions and other multi-claimant disputes including in the pharmaceutical, medical device, financial services and automotive industries. He understands the tactical procedural nuances of class action litigation and works with clients to develop strategies to address them.

Greg has developed and deployed a range of different strategies in those cases which include early applications to have class actions struck out or their scope limited through to running trials and appeals.  He appeared as junior counsel in a three-month Federal Court trial in the Australian Vioxx class action litigation.

He has also been involved in the design and implementation of defendant managed resolution schemes in several matters which involved thousands of potential claimants.

Greg has also assisted with a number of significant consumer goods recalls, including an Australia-wide recall of household electrical cabling. 

Much of Greg's experience involves clients operating in the pharmaceutical and medical devices industries. He has postgraduate science qualifications which help him to understand his clients' products, commercial imperatives and legal needs.

Finally, in addition to his product liability work Greg gives regulatory advice to numerous Australian and overseas pharmaceutical and medical device clients about all aspects of the product life cycle, including contracts, clinical trials, interactions with healthcare professionals, product registration, reimbursement and advertising disputes.

WWL says: “Rising star” Greg Williams impresses market sources in this year’s research with his “thorough and effective advice” on high-profile matters.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Product Liability Defence which can be purchased from our Shop.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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