Thursday, June 11, 2009

Innovative pharmaceutical antitrust sentence

I really like this - a former pharmaceutical executive, convicted of engaging in antitrust practices and lying about it to federal authorities, has been sentenced to write a book about it! The judge reckons it might be inspirational.
"What happens to you when you lie to federal regulators about a secret deal you struck to prevent competition on medication used by tens of millions of people? Evidently, you get sent to the blackboard. Former Bristol-Myers Squibb executive Andrew Bodnar didn't get any jail time, but was ordered by a federal judge to write a book...

His charges result from a deal cut between Bristol-Myers and a company called Apotex over the blood-thinning drug Plavix. Bristol-Myers makes Plavix, which 48 million Americans reportedly take everyday...

...with generic maker Apotex poised to offer a generic Plavix, the two companies struck a deal in which Apotex agreed to hold off on launching its generic in exchange for Bristol-Myers not selling a competing generic of its own down the road. Basically Bristol-Myers would get 6 more months to sell Plavix at pumped-up brand name prices (without generic competition) and Apotex could later sell generics without competition from Bristol-Myers.

Sound fishy? The FTC thought so and rejected the deal out of antitrust concerns. So the two companies cut that part out of the written portion of their agreement, but Dr. Bodnar made an oral agreement with Apotex along the same lines. Still sound fishy? That's probably why Bristol-Myers didn't disclose the unwritten part of the deal to the FTC. When stories being told to the FTC didn't match up, Bodnar signed a statement indicating that no such side deal existed."

Finding ways to extend the monopoly on commercially valuable drugs as they reach the end of their patent term is standard practice in the pharmaceutical industry, so it might be really interesting to read Dr Bodnar's book when it eventually does get published.

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