Sanofi-Aventis has received a boost on the news that a judge in the USA has chosen March 4 as the date for the submission of the pre-trial order for a patent dispute concerning its top-selling super-aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel).

The case, which involves a patent challenge from Canada’s Apotex and Dr Reddy’s of India, had been originally scheduled for December and then it was expected to be heard in February [[09/12/04e]]. The extension means that Sanofi can continue to earn significant revenues from the drug without any imminent competition.

The value of Plavix to Sanofi’s turnover cannot be underestimated, especially in the US where sales account for nearly 10% of the company’s whole operating profit. Sanofi gets a share of the profits earned by partner Bristol-Myers Squibb which markets the drug in the US and, with this new date, and the manner in which patent litigation cases tend to drag on, the Franco-German firm will find its coffers filled with Plavix revenues for a while yet.

Although this is clearly good news for the Franco-German companty, worries over the strength of Sanofi’s case persist, due in no small part to documents from a Canadian patent trial on Plavix which spell out more clearly allegations by Apotex and Dr Reddy’s of “anticipation, obviousness and inequitable conduct” in the Sanofi patent. However, the firm is convinced of the validity of its case and the long-term future looks good as Sanofi has a strong R&D pipeline spearheaded by its obesity and smoking-cessation drug candidate, Acomplia (rimonabant) [[10/11/04f]].