New evidence in the case over Plavix, the world’s number two drug, came to light on the second day of battle yesterday, as it emerged that the Canadian group Apotex, which is challenging the validity of the blood thinner’s patents, had been building a horde of its generic version as far back as last year.
According to the Financial Times, initial talks over a potential deal between Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis, the makers of Plavix (clopidogrel), and Apotex, which is selling a copycat version of the multi-billion-dollar selling drug, kicked off last year when the groups first learnt that Apotex had built a stockpile of generic Plavix, indicating that it was planning to launch its product before the patents on the brand ran out.
In order to protect Plavix’ sales, B-MS and Sanofi quickly hashed out a deal with Apotex that would prevent the launch of the latter’s generic until 2011, but this was overturned by US regulators, who were concerned over the anti-competitiveness of such 'sweetheart' deals, causing Apotex to go ahead and launch its generic anyway.
Apotex is now requesting that Sanofi and B-MS post a bond of $4 billion if their request to prevent sales of generic Plavix until the outcome of the trial is granted. This would compensate the group for any losses that it suffers from suspension of sales in the event that, ultimately, the court rules in its favour, The Pink Sheet Daily reports.
According to Jerry Hausman, an MIT economist and witness for Sanofi and B-MS, the price of Plavix will plummet as much as 40% if the generic version is not blocked until the dispute is resolved, substantially eating into the group’s earnings.
B-MS/Otsuka launch Abilify Discmelt
Meantime, B-MS and Otsuka Pharmaceutical have launched Abilify (aripiprazole) Discmelt, a new form of the antipsychotic designed to disintegrate rapidly in the mouth.
The new form offers a new alternative to those patients with schizophrenia or manic episodes who experience difficulty in swallowing pills. And this route of delivery is especially useful in an institutional setting, where patients often pretend to take their pill but then spit them out later.