Drug Wars Update 4

The Food and Drug Administration approved another use of Plavix today; the Bristol Myers Squibb board of directors issued a statement in response to the Justice Department’s anti-trust investigation, and I just saw a Plavix ad on television. I therefore must conclude that Bristol Myers Squibb is not giving up on its patent which in that company’s view has five years left before it expires.

Nevertheless, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that according to an analyst’s report Apotex has supplied prescription benefits managers with a year’s supply of its generic version of Plavix over the past week. Under a settlement agreement, Apotex was allowed five days beginning last week to sell its generic version before Bristol Myers could file a motion for a preliminary injunction (no temporary restraining order motion was permitted under the terms of that agreement). That motion will be heard tomorrow in federal district court in Manhattan. That settlement agreement also limits the damages that Bristol Myers and its co-marketer Sanofi-Aventis can obtain from Apotex if they prevail in the patent litigation.