Despite marketing efforts, generic Plavix takes toll on BMS

Hurt by generic exposure to its best-selling drug and a steep charge taken for legal fees, Bristol-Myers Squibb recorded a loss for the fourth quarter. The $134-million slide, as compared with the year-ago period, came on overall revenue for the quarter of $4.2 billion, compared to $5.02 billion the previous year. Analysts had expected revenue of $4.18 billion for the quarter. Sales of BMS’s Plavix blood thinner fell 53% to $496 million from $1.06 billion. That follows efforts by the firm to offset the impact of generic Plavix, which flooded the market for a brief period starting last August. BMS expanded a DTC ad campaign for the drug late last year. And Anthony Hooper, president of BMS US pharmaceuticals unit, told MM&M in January that reps were being incentivized for prescription growth, branded or not, just to maintain top-line growth until Plavix is the only brand left to be dispensed. As some of the generic version remains on the market, BMS said the copycat Plavix will continue to affect its performance but that it is regaining market share as that generic inventory runs out. The patent trial over Plavix, with generic firm Apotex, began in New York City this week. The patent expiry of cholesterol-lowering drug Pravachol in April also hurt revenue, with sales dropping 75% to $146 million. Sales of AIDS drug Reyataz climbed 3% to $255 million, while sales from anti-psychotic Abilify grew 62% to $362 million. The firm also took a $353 million charge for reserves to pay $499 million to settle federal investigations into whether it played a role in a pricing scheme that led insurers and government agencies to overpay for drugs. BMS signed an agreement in principle with the Justice Department and the US Attorney in Massachusetts to pay the settlement and avoid civil and criminal charges late last year.