Bristol-Myers, Sanofi revamp Plavix sales alliance

Associated Press Modified: October 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm •  Published: October 3, 2012
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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Sanofi SA said Wednesday that they are restructuring their longtime partnership selling popular heart medications, now that their sales are plunging due to recent, widespread competition from generic versions.

The two drugmakers made tens of billions of dollars over the last decade or so selling Plavix, a blood thinner that was long the world's second-best-selling drug. The companies also shared revenue from blood pressure drug Avapro and a related drug called Avalide that also includes a diuretic, or water pill.

The three medicines, among the top sellers for both companies, all got generic competition in the U.S. this spring. They already had generic rivals in other countries.

Plavix alone brought New York-based Bristol-Myers and Paris-based Sanofi a combined $9.7 billion in sales last year, according to company financial reports.

Multiple generic versions of Plavix, taken by millions of people to prevent strokes and heart attacks, arrived in U.S. drugstores May 17. Bristol, which had marketed Plavix in the U.S., then offered patients coupons that sharply reduced their insurance copayment for Plavix, but most patients quickly defected to much-cheaper generic pills, called clopidogrel.

Bristol's Plavix sales plummeted 60 percent to $741 million in the second quarter, and they're expected to fall even more in the just-ended third quarter. Bristol is to announce its results for the quarter on Oct. 24; Sanofi is to report its results the next day.

Avapro and Avalide, known chemically as irbesartan and irbesartan/hydrochlorothiazide, generated a total of $2.62 billion in worldwide sales last year. The two blood pressure drugs got generic competition in the U.S. in March, and their sales have since declined.

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