Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sanofi-Aventis, BMS settle with Apotex over Plavix

from Reuters:

Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said on March 21 they have settled a dispute with generic drugmaker Apotex Inc. that could keep patent protection on their multibillion-dollar blood thinner Plavix until 2011.

The announcement sent shares of Bristol up 9 percent and moved Sanofi shares more than 7 percent higher in after-hours trading.

A trial involving the disputed Plavix patent had been set to begin in June in U.S. District Court in New York. The court has suspended the trial date pending possible finalization of the proposed settlement, the companies said.

The settlement follows some high-profile patent lawsuit victories for major pharmaceutical companies in U.S. courts, including cases involving Pfizer Inc.'s cholesterol drug Lipitor -- the world's top selling prescription medicine -- and Eli Lilly and Co.'s schizophrenia drug Zyprexa, another multibillion-dollar medicine.

"This is big news especially if they can craft a settlement with Dr Reddy's," said Taylor McGowan, portfolio manager at Farr, Miller & Washington, noting that the world's second biggest selling prescription drug accounts for about 20 percent of Bristol-Myers sales.

"The news is also good for big pharma in general as one of trends in recent years is generic companies setting out to sell drugs potentially years before the patents actually expire on the branded products," McGowan said.

Under terms of the proposed Apotex settlement, Sanofi-Aventis would grant Apotex a royalty-bearing license to sell clopidogrel bisulfate in the United States once the patent expires in 2011. Clopidogrel is the chemical name for Plavix.

Plavix is by far the biggest product for the drugmakers, with Bristol reporting about $3.8 billion in 2005 U.S. Plavix sales, and the possibility that it could lose patent protection had been a huge uncertainty hanging over them.


Post a Comment

<< Home