Generic Plavix imminent, says Medco Health

Medco Health Solutions says it expects a generic version of the blockbuster Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis blood thinner Plavix to become available in the United States this year. The pharmacy benefit management (PBM) concern, which issued second-quarter earnings Friday, revised its guidance for 2006 on the possible availability of a generic version of Plavix, which is the world’s second-biggest-selling drug and BMS’ biggest product. “We think it will happen this year,” a Medco spokesman told MM&M of the generic. “It could be as early as August or as late as December.” She would not say which generic drugmaker Medco expects to launch it. Apotex received FDA approval to market a generic version of Plavix in March and tried to strike a deal with BMS and Sanofi in which it would not sell its copycat version until 2011. But the deal failed to receive antitrust clearance. Medco says it accounts for 24% of US market share for Plavix. More than 50% of Plavix is dispensed by mail, which can increase profit for the PBM. During the earnings call, the PBM raised its 2006 guidance from a range of $2.23 to $2.30 per share to a new range of $2.26 to $2.35 per share. New generics Zocor and Zoloft also will benefit earnings, the spokesman said, but the potential generic availability of Plavix “we thought would have a substantial impact.”