Jan 14 Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd
said on Tuesday it is "completely confident" the new
version of its flagship multiple sclerosis drug, Copaxone, which
features less frequent dosing, will be approved in the United
States in the near future.
The Israel-based company said it believes it will be able to
get 45 percent of regular Copaxone patients to switch to the new
drug, which is injected three times a week instead of daily.
Teva's branded MS drug accounts for about 20 percent of
sales and 50 percent of Teva profits, though Teva is the world's
largest seller of generic medicines.
Analysts believe it is critically important for Teva to get
patients switched to the three-times-weekly drug before
competition from cheap generic versions of Copaxone hit the
market as soon as this year.
However, acting Chief Executive Eyal Desheh, speaking at the
JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, said he
believes that "purported generics of Copaxone may be quite
different" and should have to prove themselves to be as safe and
effective as branded Copaxone, the market leader for MS
treatments, before they can be viewed as a true generic.
Teva this month announced that industry outsider and Teva
board member Erez Vigodman would become its next chief
executive, replacing Jeremy Levin who left abruptly in October
following clashes with the board.
Vigodman, who previously led MA Industries, the world's
biggest generic agrochemicals company, is expected to cut jobs
and costs and seek new areas of revenue to help turn around the
company, which has seen its share price lag behind those of
That could come through new branded drugs, building its
generic presence in emerging markets, such as Brazil and China,
and through deals.
Teva executives at the conference said they expect further
consolidation in the generic drugs space and said the company
still has a sense of urgency when it comes to acquisitions.
"It's important to move fast because everyone is looking at
same targets," Desheh said. "But we have to do the clever deals
that Teva was so good at doing in the past."
Teva shares trading on the New York Stock Exchange
were up 8 percent at $44.68.