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Bristol-Myers Squibb suffers at hands of generic Plavix

Published on 26/10/06 at 03:34pm

Figures show that the launch of a generic competitor to Plavix in the US dealt a serious blow to Bristol-Myers Squibb in the third quarter, reducing sales by as much as $600 million.

The news confirms investors' fears for the company's fortunes after Apotex out-manoeuvred BMS and its marketing partner Sanofi-Aventis over the summer, when a court decision allowed the generics company to flood the market with a copycat version of Plavix (clopidogrel bisulfate).

The company says total US demand for clopidogrel bisulfate (branded and generic) increased by 14% in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2005, but demand for its branded product fell 32% in the same period.

The company says it expects that large stocks of generic clopidogrel already with wholesalers will continue to satisfy a significant majority of prescription demand for the rest of 2006.

BMS says supplies of the generic drug will tail off in early 2007, but adds it cannot be sure just how much stock is remaining in wholesalers' reserves.

Chief executive Peter Dolan was fired over the mishandling of the affair and related allegations of illegal anti-competitive dealings with Apotex.

His replacement, interim chief executive Jim Cornelius said the company's leadership had the right strategy to overcome the disastrous episode.

"After assuming the chief executive role on an interim basis several weeks ago, I've been focused on our company's strategy, growth prospects and people. I, along with the rest of our board, believe that Bristol-Myers Squibb has a sound strategy in place to maximise shareholder value. We have one of the best pipelines in the industry and the right team in place to execute our strategy," said Jim Cornelius.

"Clearly, our third quarter overall performance was negatively impacted by generic competition to Plavix and the loss of exclusivity on Pravachol earlier this year.

"However, our other major products continue to demonstrate robust, double-digit sales growth and the launches of our new products, Sprycel, Orencia and Baraclude are on track."

Sales outside the US fell 9%, including a 2% favorable foreign exchange impact, to $1.5 billion for the third quarter of 2006 compared to the same period in 2005, mainly due to increasing generic competition for Pravachol and Taxol.

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