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Court blocks generic version of blood drug

June 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

A Canadian company's generic version of the blood thinner Plavix has been blocked from the U.S. market until at least 2011.

U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein said Tuesday that Apotex Inc. had failed to prove during a three-week trial in New York this year that the patent protecting Plavix from competitors was invalid.

Apotex said it would file an immediate appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington. A win would allow the company to "once again make possible billions of dollars in savings for the public," said Chief Executive Barry Sherman.

Plavix, used by 48 million Americans, is Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s best-selling product. It is the world's second-best-selling drug after Pfizer Inc.'s Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering agent.

The ruling also was a victory for the French patent-holder, Sanofi-Aventis, which sells Plavix in the United States through Bristol-Myers.

"We're pleased that our intellectual property rights have been maintained," said Bristol-Myers spokesman Tony Plohoros.

Apotex's drug sells for about $124 for 30 pills, compared with $148 for a month's supply of the branded version.

Shares of New York-based Bristol-Myers surged $1.27 to $31.58 on Tuesday, while Paris-based Sanofi-Aventis rose 24 cents to $41.59.

Last year, Stein had granted a request by Sanofi-Aventis to stop Apotex from producing the generic drug, which had gained a majority of market share after its launch last summer.

The judge had allowed Apotex to continue selling a six-month supply of product that it already had shipped to U.S. distributors.

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