The occasionally line-skirting strategies employed by


(BMY) - Get Report

to prevent generic competition for its BuSpar and Taxol franchises are going to cost the company more than half a billion dollars.

The company disclosed agreements in principle Tuesday to settle for $670 million allegations that it violated antitrust laws in trying to block generic competition to the anxiety and cancer treatments.

The company was accused of adding spurious patent claims to the drugs' pharmacology in order to extend the period in which it was permitted exclusive marketing rights.

Bristol-Myers denied wrongdoing but said it decided the best course of action would be to enter into settlements, putting the uncertainty and risk of litigation to rest.

Bristol-Myers' shares were up 19 cents, or 0.8%, at $25.46 in afternoon trading on the

New York Stock Exchange.

The BuSpar settlements, totaling $535 million, will resolve claims brought by customers, competitors and up to 30 state atorneys' offices. From that $535 million, $125 million of it was charged in the first quarter of 2002, while the remaining $410 million will be charged against 2002 results. In the Taxol case, Bristol-Myers will pay $135 million to the plaintiffs and will also count against its 2002 results.

Among the provisions still remaining to be negotiated are the terms for incorporating certain claimants, including a number of health insurers, into the existing framework, the company said. Final approval by the state attorneys general hinges upon further agreements on terms of injunctive relief.