Bristol-Myers Squibb has extended its deal with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co which will allow the New York-based firm to sell the schizophrenia blockbuster Abilify in the USA for nearly two-and-a-half years longer than expected.

B-MS was due to return the US rights for Abilify (aripiprazole) to the Japanese drugmaker in November 2012 but this has now been extended to April 2015, when the compound loses its patent. The importance of this extension is that earnings from Abilify will help B-MS fill the profits decline it will suffer once the blockbuster Plavix (clopidogrel) is hit by generic competition starting in 2012.

Under the terms of the new agreement, B-MS is making an upfront payment of $400 million to Otsuka. The share of Abilify US sales that the former will receive will change from 65% now to 58% for 2010, 53.5% for 2011 and 51.5% a year later. During that period, Otsuka will be responsible for 30% of marketing costs connected with the drug, whereas now it does not bear any of the expenditure.

Then, beginning in January 2013 to 2015, B-MS will receive 50% of Abilify sales up to $2.7 billion and a declining share above that figure. Otsuka will assume half of the marketing expenses.

B-MS chief operating officer Lamberto Andreotti said that the deal “with our long-standing and valued collaborator Otsuka” will help “build our earnings base for 2013 and transition us to an expected period of growth in 2014 and beyond”.

The companies also announced that Otsuka will become involved with two of B-MS’ cancer drugs, Sprycel (dasatinib) and Ixempra (ixabepilone). Starting next year, it will share commercial expenses in the USA, Europe and Japan, and co-promote the leukaemia drug Sprycel, in those territories.

As for Ixempra, Otsuka collaborate on the development of the breast cancer drug which was approved for advanced breast cancer in the USA in October 2007. However, last month B-MS pulled its marketing application in Europe for Ixempra, a few months after the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use decided that that potential damage to nerve cells did not outweigh the "very small increase" in survival from breast cancer.