HOUSTON Bristol-Myers Squibb Company unveiled both a scientific achievement and a patent strategy that, if used by other drug companies, could delay introduction of cheaper generic versions of hundreds of patented drugs. Typically, after patents expire and generic versions of a drug become available, most drugs lose up to 80% of sales during the first year they face generic competition, according to Barbara Ryan, a drug industry analyst with Deutsche Banc Alex Brown. US patents on drugs with sales approaching $20 billion annually will expire over the next five years.

The Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) strategy was to identify the pharmacologically active metabolites produced by patients taking the widely used anti-anxiety medication BuSpar (buspirone HCl). The scientific achievement was to identify a metabolite, 6-hydroxybuspirone, which is produced by patients taking buspirone. Previously, no significant anti-anxiety activity was ever detected for 6-hydroxybuspirone. In consequence, dosing of buspirone was considered optimised when its...

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