Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY) and Sanofi-Aventis (SNY) said on Monday they had requested a preliminary injunction to halt sales by Apotex Inc. of its generic form of their anti-clotting drug Plavix and to force a recall of any generic pills already shipped.
Bristol-Myers and Sanofi-Aventis filed their motion in U.S. District Court for the Southern District in Manhattan. They said a hearing on their motion has been scheduled for Friday, but cautioned there was no assurance the motion would be granted.
Privately held Apotex, based in Canada, on August 8 launched its cheaper generic in the United States far sooner than analysts had expected, thereby threatening to eat into sales of Bristol-Myers' $4-billion-a-year branded product. Bristol-Myers sells the drug in the United States for Sanofi-Aventis.
Under surviving terms of a deal between Apotex and the larger two drugmakers that collapsed late last month, Bristol-Myers and Sanofi-Aventis were allowed -- beginning five days after the generic was launched -- to seek a preliminary injunction to stop continued shipments.
"Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb continue to believe that the Apotex generic product infringes their intellectual property rights, which are currently the subject of the pending patent litigation," the companies said in a statement.
Apotex, according to published reports, had vowed to make huge shipments of its generic within days of its launch. That means supplies that could satisfy patient demand for many months may already be in the hands of wholesalers and drugstores, which could chip away at sales of Plavix.
"Since Apotex's unlawful plan has been to flood the market as quickly as possible, it is appropriate that that plan be thwarted promptly," Bristol-Myers and Sanofi-Aventis said in their filing, asking the court to recall all of the generic that has Apotex has already sold and to bar its resale by distributors.
The companies asked the court "to bar resales of (the) infringing product by distributors and compel Apotex to accept their returns with a full refund of what they paid."
Bristol-Myers and Sanofi-Aventis cited previous U.S. legal cases involving handbag, quilting and chemical companies that were ordered to recall or stop selling products once an injunction was approved.
Shares of Bristol-Myers closed up 17 cents at $20.41 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. Sanofi's stock closed up 1.2 percent in Paris.