Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) has finally convinced the Supreme Court to hear its Copaxone patent appeal. But the high court may not hand down a decision till June 2015--and generic versions of the company's top moneymaker are on their way as soon as next month.
So, once again, the company is trying to buy some time. Teva is asking SCOTUS to block those generics till the court decides the case.
As Reuters reports, Teva has asked the Supreme Court to stay the July 2013 appeals court ruling that invalidated key Copaxone patents. A stay would prevent would-be copycat teams--Novartis' ($NVS) Sandoz/Momenta Pharmaceuticals ($MNTA) and Mylan ($MYL)/Natco Pharma--from bringing their rivals to market before it can argue its case.
"Teva's innovative and widely prescribed treatment for multiple sclerosis will lose protection" if the appeals court ruling is not stayed, the Petah Tikva-based drugmaker's lawyers said in a court filing seen by the news service. In that case, SCOTUS' ruling could come "effectively too late to prevent irreparable harm to Teva."
Of course, there's always the possibility that generics makers will stay away on their own. If they launch generics in May, they will have to compensate Teva for lost sales if the Israeli company prevails at the Supreme Court. While both Novartis and Mylan have said they believe Teva's IP protection is invalid, Bank of Jerusalem analyst Jonathan Kreizman told Bloomberg last month that he doesn't envision their moving forward. "Teva has a good case with the particular patent," he said.
But with its most important revenues in jeopardy--Teva reaps $8.8 million a day from the multiple sclerosis blockbuster, easily its leading seller--the company is covering all its bases. That involves plugging away at its goal of switching as many Copaxone patients as possible over to a new, long-lasting formula approved in January, with an eventual conversion target of 30% to 50%.
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