Novartis AG will pay a San Francisco biopharmaceutical company $75 million—with the potential for an additional $500 million—for the worldwide rights to an experimental anticlotting drug the Swiss drug firm hopes will rival Plavix, reports the Wall Street Journal. Market leader Plavix rang up $8.22 billion in sales last year, and Eli Lilly is expected to bring a competitor to market soon.
The Novartis drug is expected to begin final testing in 2010 but likely won't be available to the public before 2013. The drug, elinogrel, acts as an anticlotting agent almost immediately, and its effects can be quickly reversed, the company said. It’s being developed both in intravenous and pill form. Plavix is the second-best-selling drug in the world, after Lipitor; a generic version is expected by 2011.