Apotex has finally paid its Plavix dues. The generics maker has handed over $444 million to Sanofi ($SNY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), as repayment for its premature launch of generic Plavix back in 2006. The payment marks the end of a patent dispute that went on for almost 10 years, and follows Apotex’s unsuccessful appeal to a U.S. Circuit Court in October.
The saga began when Sanofi sued Apotex in 2002, alleging the generics company’s proposed version of Plavix would infringe upon its patent. The French drugmaker won a preliminary injunction four years later–but only after Apotex had already shipped its copy of the blockbuster blood thinner. The knockoff version quickly flooded the market, costing Sanofi and Bristol-Myers hundreds of millions in lost sales.
In 2007, a U.S. judge upheld Sanofi’s Plavix patent and ruled Apotex had violated it. The generic version reaped more than $880 million in sales during its short time on the market. Sanofi asked for half that amount in damages, and the judge agreed. “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,” the drugmakers said in announcing the payment.