| WASHINGTON, April 8
WASHINGTON, April 8 U.S. Chief Justice John
Roberts on Tuesday asked generic drug manufacturers to respond
to a request from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd
seeking to prevent a lower court ruling from taking effect while
the high court considers an appeal in a patent fight over Teva's
top-selling multiple sclerosis drug, Copaxone.
The procedural move, which was expected, gives the two teams
developing cheaper forms of Copaxone until 5 p.m. EDT on Monday,
April 14, to respond.
Teva shares closed down 5.5 percent in Tel Aviv, but were
off 54 cents, or about 1 percent, for shares trading on the New
York Stock Exchange.
On March 31, the high court agreed to hear Teva's appeal of
a July 2013 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit in favor of the two groups of generic companies:
Novartis AG's Sandoz Inc and Momenta Pharmaceuticals
Inc, and Mylan Inc and Natco Pharma Ltd.
The outcome of the legal fight could determine how soon the
generic versions enter the market.
The appeals court had upheld some of the nine patents
involved in the drug, or portions of them, but declared several
invalid, meaning patent protections were set to expire in May
2014 instead of September 2015.
The Supreme Court will not hear oral arguments in the Teva
case until its 2014 term begins in October. A ruling could come
as late as June 2015.
After the generic companies file their response, the chief
justice will decide whether to grant the stay. He could also
refer the matter to the court as a whole.
The case is Teva v. Sandoz, U.S. Supreme Court, 13-854.
(Additional reporting by Bill Berkrot in New York; Editing by
Howard Goller and Dan Grebler)