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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Drug makers Bristol Myers Squibb and Sanofi Aventis are going to court today. The want to stop Canadian pharmaceutical company Apotex from selling a generic version of their blood-thinning drug. Ashley Milne-Tyte says a lot is on the line.
ASHLEY MILNE-TYTE: Plavix is the No. 2 selling prescription drug in the world after Lipitor. Last year it brought in $988 million in the US alone.
Nielsen Hobbs is with The Pink Sheet, which covers the pharmaceutical industry. He says Bristol Myers and Sanofi have lost patents on other drugs recently, and they don't want to lose this goldmine.
NIELSEN HOBBS: "They're being quite aggressive in their court filing. They've asked for not only an injunction but a recall of the product to make sure it completely leaves the market."
They'll be lucky to get all that, says health industry consultant David Webster.
Although the patent on Plavix doesn't expire till 2011, he says its claims of exclusivity are questionable. He says the court is likely to sympathize with Apotex . . .
DAVID WEBSTER:"Because Bristol Myers and Sanofi-Aventis have given the appearance that they're working hard to keep generics off the market."
Webster says if the generic drug stays on the shelf, Plavix sales could drop 70 percent in six months.
I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.