Bristol-Myers loses patent lawsuit over anti-anxiety drug

Wednesday, March 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ A federal judge has ruled that a generic drug maker should be allowed to sell its version of an anti-anxiety drug produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

The ruling Tuesday allows Mylan Laboratories Inc. to manufacture and sell its own version of Bristol's drug, BuSpar, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. The drug has been on the market for 15 years and had sales of $709 billion last year, making it Bristol's fifth-biggest seller.

The lawsuit stems from a patent Bristol-Myers received Nov. 21, a day before generic versions of the drug were launched by Mylan and Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Bristol informed the Food and Drug Administration that the new patent, which covers a molecule patients create when they ingest BuSpar, extended its exclusive rights to sell the drug. The FDA then told Mylan and Watson they couldn't sell their version of BuSpar.

Mylan argued in court that Bristol's patent couldn't prevent the sale of a generic version of the drug, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia agreed.

Bristol is considering an appeal.

The ruling comes as critics denounce Bristol's tactics used to fend off generics. The company recently lost its exclusive rights to sell its top-selling drug, Glucophage, used to treat diabetes.