In settlement, BMS takes fine for hiding Apotex deal

The government fined Bristol-Myers Squibb $1 million as part of an antitrust probe settlement of a deal BMS made with Canadian generics outfit Apotex. As part of the settlement, BMS will plead guilty to criminal charges related to making false statements to a government agency. The charges relate to a proposed settlement agreement BMS struck with Apotex last year designed to delay the generic firm’s launch of a copycat version of Plavix, Bristol-Myers’ best-selling anti-platelet drug. While scrutinizing the agreement, the Federal Trade Commission discovered a side deal between the two firms. Though BMS denied it at the time, company officials now admit that former SVP for Strategy Andrew Bodnar had agreed to the pact but lied about it. Such conduct violates terms of a two-year-old deferred-prosecution agreement BMS struck with the US attorney for New Jersey, Christopher Christie, related to an earlier scandal. But reforms Bristol-Myers has undertaken since, including the resignation of Dr. Bodnar, have spared it a criminal indictment, said Christie’s office in a statement. BMS also fired its former CEO, Peter Dolan, and chief counsel, Richard Willard. James Cornelius, a board member, was named interim CEO in September and became permanent last month. According to the statement, Christie said such actions have “cured resulting breaches” of the deferred-prosecution agreement and that, as long as BMS complies with the agreement between now and June 15, he will terminate the DPA as scheduled on that date. An end to the oversight could renew interest among firms pondering a purchase of the pharmaceutical company.