* FTC says fine the largest it could impose
* Says fine stems from effort to block cheaper generic
NEW YORK, March 31 (Reuters) - Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY.N) will pay a $2.1 million penalty for failing to inform the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about the company’s earlier efforts to delay a generic form of its blockbuster Plavix blood clot preventer, the FTC said on Tuesday.
The FTC said the civil penalty is the largest allowed by the commission and stems from charges that Bristol-Myers in 2006 entered into agreements with Canadian drugmaker Apotex meant to delay a U.S. launch of Apotex’ copycat form of Plavix, in return for payments from Bristol-Myers.
Despite the alleged arrangement, privately held Apotex later briefly sold its generic in the United States before a federal judge barred future shipments of the product.
The FTC on Tuesday said Bristol-Myers’ arrangement with Apotex violated the Medicare Modernization Act, which requires that certain drug company agreements be reported to the commission and to the Department of Justice.
New York-based Bristol-Myers in May 2007 paid $1 million to settle federal criminal charges that it lied to the Department of Justice about its Plavix agreement with Apotex, the FTC said. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)