BMS and Pfizer file 16 Eliquis patent lawsuits to waylay generic makers

Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb are erecting a wall of patent infringement lawsuits that they hope will slow the advance of generic versions of their shared blockbuster Eliquis.

The partners this week filed suit against 13 generic makers, on top of three filed last week, reports the Delaware Law Weekly, naming companies that include Mylan, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories and Accord Healthcare.

The two have plenty to protect in the stroke and blood clot preventer. It earned BMS about $3.3 billion last year, up nearly 60% from the $1.9 billion earned the year before. Pfizer enjoyed $1.6 billion from the drug.

The anticoagulant is among the top-selling products for both companies, and they have gone to great lengths to protect and promote it. Pfizer spent $174 million on direct-to-consumer advertising for Eliquis last year, ranking it third among the top 20 advertised meds.

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Eliquis was the third of the next-generation blood thinners to the market, trailing Boehringer Ingelheim’s Pradaxa and Johnson & Johnson’s Xarelto. It had a very slow start in 2014, worrying analysts who had big expectations for the med. But since then, it has picked up momentum, surpassing Pradaxa in market share.

BMS CEO Giovanni Caforio recently predicted it will soon take the crown from Xarelto as the best-selling med in its class.

It already enjoys the top spot in the institutional setting, including hospitals, and among cardiologists, where it’s surpassed not only its next-gen peers but also standby warfarin, which still has a big hold on the market. It should also get a boost from a recent study that showed Eliquis can save patients and hospitals money compared with warafin, saving more than Pradaxa and Xarelto when they were compared to warafin.  

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Even as the companies are in court in Delaware to protect their patents, they have also been in court in New York to defend themselves against claims that they hid bleeding risks of the drug, the law weekly reports.