Andrew Bodnar, once a senior vice president, was charged by theUS Department of Justice with lying to federal authorities about a botched patent deal involving the Plavix blood thinner. You may recall Bristol-Myers Squibb has already pleaded guilty and paid a $1 million fine for misleading the government about the deal, which included a secret side agreement with Apotex, even though Bristol execs certified there was no such agreement.
The indictment, filed in US District Court in Washington, DC, says Bodnar, 60, lied to the Federal Trade Commission about the arrangement between Bristol and its Plavix marketing partner, Sanofi-Aventis, to keep Apotex from launching a generic version of Plavix. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and will be forced to read The Sesame Street Guide to Telling the Truth.
Two years ago, Bristol-Myers and Sanofi had agreed to pay the generic drugmaker at least $40 million to keep its version of Plavix off the market until 2011, when the patent expires. The agreement was designed to settle Apotex's challenge to the patents on Plavix, but the deal soured when state attorneys general refused to sign off.
Prosecutors said Wednesday that Bodnar knowingly made false statements about Bristol's proposed settlement with Apotex to FTC agents. At the time, Bristol was subject to a binding agreement, for unrelated conduct, which required it to submit any proposed patent settlements to FTC for review.
Plavix was the second best-selling drug in the world last year with revenue of $7.3 billion, according to health care research firm IMS Health. A Bristol spokeswoman declined to comment.
Drugmakers often use lucrative settlement payments to keep rivals from launching low-cost generic versions of their drugs. But, the FTC has been challenging the practice as illegal and anticompetitive. In February, for instance, the FTC sued Cephalon for paying generic firms $200 million to delay launching cheaper versions of its Provigil sleep disorder drug. Cephalon defended the agreements, saying they helped end costly and protracted patent infringement litigation.