By Tova Cohen
TEL AVIV Nov 7 Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
, the world's biggest generic drugmaker, could be
gearing up to sell its version of blockbuster
cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor when patent protection expires
on Nov. 30, analysts say.
If Teva secures regulatory approval to sell a generic
version of Pfizer's Lipitor this year, just one month of
sales could add 10 cents to earnings per share in 2011.
The analysts based their assumption on comments made by Teva
President and CEO Shlomo Yanai during a conference call last
week following publication of third-quarter financial results.
During the call, Israel-based Teva forecast 2011 sales of
$18.3-$18.6 billion and earnings per share of $4.92-$5.02,
saying the range reflects uncertainty about the timing of the
regulatory approval and launch in the United States of an
important undisclosed generic product.
"In the event that the company is unable to secure
regulatory approval and launch this product in the fourth
quarter it would expect to achieve the low end of the full year
2011 outlook," Teva said.
Some analysts said the mystery drug is likely to be a
generic version of Pfizer's biggest selling product, the
$10-billion a year Lipitor.
Lipitor's patent protection expires Nov. 30, after which two
new versions of the drug are expected to be sold by Ranbaxy
Laboratories and Watson Pharmaceuticals . They
were expected to be the only competitors for six months, after
which a number of other copycats may enter the market.
Ranbaxy's scheduled launch of the drug has been clouded by
speculation that regulatory troubles could derail its plans.
"We continue to believe that Teva will become a partner for
generic Lipitor," said Brad Gastwirth, co-founder of ABR
Investment Strategy, a research firm focused on technology,
media, telecom and healthcare.
"We continue to hear significant manufacturing issues at
Ranbaxy, India's largest pharma company, and we think a
Ranbaxy/Teva partnership is likely."
Teva officials did not respond to email and phone requests
for comment. Ranbaxy declined to comment.
Sanford Bernstein analyst Aaron Gal also said the drug Teva
was referring to was ostensibly Lipitor, saying: "What other
product can give Teva 10 cents EPS or $89 million net income in
Gal had earlier believed Teva was likely to act as a
supplier to Pfizer rather than forge a deal with Ranbaxy. But he
said on Monday contacts in Israel had suggested Teva might act
as a supplier to Ranbaxy.
"We are thus modifying our view -- we expect Teva will
participate as a supplier in the market, assuming Ranbaxy is
approved," Gal said in a note to clients. "However, we are
uncertain to which side it will supply the product."
Asked about the partnership speculation,
Pfizer would only say that the terms of its 2009 settlement with
Teva regarding Lipitor are confidential.