Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. sold his Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) shares on August 31, allowing him to participate in two pending cases involving the drug maker before the Supreme Court, according to the Wall Street Journal, which cites a court spokesperson.
The justice’s participation helps fill the court, which had previously been shorthanded due to recusal of its newest justice Elena Kagan, who is sitting out on several cases this term due to her previous involvement as US solicitor general.
According to Roberts’s financial disclosure form from last year, the justice held $15,000 or less of Pfizer stock, the Journal said, which has previously led him to recuse himself in other court matters involving Pfizer.
On Tuesday, the court agreed to hear the drug maker’s appeal that challenges a lawsuit that alleges the company overcharged federally funded hospital and clinics for prescription drugs.
The second case involves a Pennsylvania suit in which parents alleged their daughter developed a residual seizure disorder after receiving a vaccine manufactured by Wyeth, acquired last year by Pfizer.
Eight judges will now serve on the two Pfizer cases, leading to a greater chance that either case results in a tie.
If a tie is reached, the lower court ruling would be affirmed, which would work toward the New York-based drug maker’s benefit in the vaccine case and would prove disappointing in the California case.
On Monday Pfizer closed lower amid its announcement that it was terminating late-stage clinical trials of its prostate cancer drug Sutent, after it noted a zero survival benefit for patients with the disease.
Shares of the drug maker rose gradually Tuesday closing up 1.49%, or 25 cents, to $17.42.