Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to pay $13 million dollars to settle charges that it had unlawfully blocked the market entry of cheaper generic alternatives to its anti-anxiety agent, BuSpar (buspirone), and the cancer treatment, Taxol (paclitaxel), New York Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, said yesterday.

AG Spitzer said that the US firm had paid almost $13.2 million to state agencies and hospitals that purchased the two drugs, and that the monies were “intended to compensate agencies which paid illegally inflated prices to provide the drugs to New Yorkers.” He added: “Anti-competitive practices that boost already sky-high drug prices and cost taxpayers and consumers millions are unacceptable.”

In a federal court complaint filed in December 2001, AG Spitzer alleged that B-MS had broken state and federal anti-trust laws by illegally obtaining a new patent extending BuSpar’s market exclusivity, and that the firm had “knowingly made false statements to the FDA concerning the scope of its new patent as part of a scheme to extend its patent monopoly over BuSpar, thereby preventing competition from less expensive generic drugs.” The Taxol suit, which was filed in June 2002, also alleged that B-MS had illegally obtained patents on the drug.