Sanofi SA , the French pharmaceutical group, and its U.S. partner Bristol-Myers Squibb received a $444-million payment from their generic rival Apotex as the companies braced for the expiry of exclusive rights to their leading blockbuster Plavix.
The settlement – following a lengthy legal battle against Apotex since 2002 – was announced on Wednesday as Sanofi posted 2011 results with a warning that patent expiry would this year help depress earnings by 12-15 per cent.
Apotex in 2006 launched a rival, lower cost version of Plavix (known generically as clopidogrel) "at risk" – on the assumption that it would win any litigation over the patent.
The two partner companies said: "Sanofi and Bristol-Myers Squibb are pleased that their intellectual property rights have been upheld and that Apotex has made reparation of the harm caused by the at-risk launch of a generic version of clopidogrel bisulfate in 2006."
The French pharmaceutical group posted net income down 5 per cent to €8.8-billion ($11.6-billion Canadian) on sales up 3 per cent for the year to €33.4-billion.
Chris Viehbacher, chief executive officer, said: "Beyond the remaining patent cliff in 2012, the robust performance of our diversified growth platforms, the reduced exposure to future patent expiries and progress on R&D, position Sanofi for a period of sustainable growth."