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Sanofi-Aventis Wins $442 Million on Plavix Patent

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Sanofi-Aventis SA won a $442 million judgment against Apotex Inc. over the patent for the blood thinner Plavix, the world’s second-biggest selling drug.

Today’s opinion by U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein in Manhattan set the amount of damages awarded to Paris-based Sanofi and also granted interest on the award since August 2006, according to a court filing.

Sanofi filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against closely held Apotex in 2002 and won a preliminary injunction against the Toronto-based company four years later. In a five-week bench trial in 2007, Stein found Sanofi’s patent on Plavix was valid and enforceable, and Apotex violated the patent by making and distributing a generic form of the drug.

Sanofi asked for half of Apotex’s net sales of the generic copy, which totaled more than $884 million, according to the filing. Apotex said it should pay only 40 percent of sales, because Sanofi had marketed an authorized generic version of the drug.

Stein granted Sanofi’s request, saying the French company had lowered the price for branded Plavix, not introduced a generic version of the drug. Apotex’s infringing sales came in a three-week period in August 2006, during which it “flooded the market with its generic product” before the court barred it from continuing, according to the filing.

Plavix Partner

Joining Sanofi as plaintiff in the case was a partnership the company has with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Sanofi owns the Plavix patent and New York-based Bristol-Myers sells the drug in the U.S.

Sanofi and Bristol-Myers are “pleased” with the judgment, said Ken Dominski, a spokesman for Bristol-Myers, in an e-mail. He declined to specify the division of the damages between the two plaintiffs.

Carrie Brown, a spokeswoman for Sanofi, and Elie Betito of Apotex didn’t return calls seeking comment.

The case is Sanofi-Synthelabo v. Apotex Inc., 02cv2255, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporters on this story: Linda Sandler in New York at lsandler@bloomberg.net; Tom Randall in New York at trandall6@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net; Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net.

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