Teva gets more than half of U.S. Copaxone patients converted to long-lasting version

One of the key strategies being pursued by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) to protect itself against generic competition to Copaxone is to switch patients over to its new longer-lasting version of the drug. And in the U.S., the drugmaker is just over halfway there.

Teva, in its Q2 earnings release Thursday, said that it had converted 51% of patients in the U.S. to the newly launched Copaxone 40mg/mL. New CEO Erez Vigodman has predicted it can convert 65% of patients by the end of the year. Those changeovers helped the Israeli drugmaker eke out a 2% increase in second-quarter earnings, which were $5 billion. Net income was up 4% to $1.05 billion, after stripping out some one-time costs.

Sales of the Copaxone family were actually down 12% for the quarter to $939 million, but that was, in part, because wholesalers stockpiled its 20-milligram dosages in the first quarter, Bloomberg reports.

"This was a weak quarter for Copaxone so it's amazing that they still managed to beat estimates," Ori Hershkovitz, a managing partner at Sphera Funds Management, told Bloomberg. "There was very strong performance by generics and other branded drugs."

Teva is taking a number of measures to keep its financial house in order. It has been trying, with limited success, to hold off generics of Copaxone, a drug which has accounted for about half its annual profits. It is cutting $2 billion in costs, and Vigodman has said it will give more attention to the generics business which has been its bread and butter. Bloomberg pointed out that generic sales in the U.S. were up 10% and that revenues from the category worldwide were up 5% to to $2.5 billion.

- here's the earnings announcement
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