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In an earnings call with investment analysts, an executive of Medco, which administers drug benefits plans, predicted that a generic formulation of Plavix could reach the market soon. That news sent shares down for Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis, who co-market Plavix. Apotex, a Canadian drug company, received FDA approval for its generic formulation of Plavix earlier this year and announced plans to manufacure the drug. After the Plavix makers brought a patent lawsuit against Apotex, the parties reached a tentative settlement involving a cash payment to Apotex and delaying of the generic drug for several years. That settlement was recently rejected by state officials and is being investigated by the Justice Department. Availability of generic drugs is helpful for consumers, as generics are generally about 30 percent cheaper.

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