Teva's new launches won't feel the sting of hefty cost cuts: CEO

With Teva slated to cut 14,000 jobs and $3 billion in costs in the coming years, every area of the company will feel the impact of its restructuring plan. Well, almost.

“Basically the only thing we’re really protecting is the product flow,” new CEO Kåre Schultz recently told investors, adding that the drugmaker will be “making sure the sales efforts are not hampered.”

And that includes launches for a couple of key specialty products in Teva’s portfolio: newly approved Austedo, which bears indications in Huntington’s and tardive dyskinesia (TD), and closely watched CGRP migraine candidate fremanezumab.

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“We are backing fremanezumab 100%,” Schultz said. Among a tough field of competitors—including a Novartis-Amgen team-up—Teva is the only one whose product can be dosed once every three months, a factor “we think will be an advantage.”

“We have of course made sure we have the resources” to back the rollout and cue a “successful launch of Austedo,” he added.

Both drugs will need resources to compete against key rivals. Austedo, for one, went up against Neurocrine’s Ingrezza when it snagged its FDA green light for TD in August; Ingrezza was the first-ever product to win a TD indication when it did so in April.

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And on the migraine side, Teva is vying with Novartis and Amgen—which filed an FDA application for their erenumab over the summer—as well as Eli Lilly, which submitted its own application earlier this month. Teva, for its part, saw the FDA accept its on fremanezumab application Monday; Alder BioPharmaceuticals trails the Israeli drugmaker with prospect eptinezumab.

Despite the list of heavyweight rivals, though, analysts expect Teva to become “one of the leaders in the CGRP space,” Credit Suisse’s Vamil Divan, M.D., wrote in a recent note to clients. “Fremanezumab stands out as one of the only assets of interest in the Teva branded pipeline.”

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Meanwhile, though, the rest of Teva will feel the squeeze as the company embarks on a cost-cutting plan broader than industry watchers expected. “You basically look at everything and try to optimize everything in one go,” Schultz told investors about his approach to wringing out savings. The process also involves making sure the cost-cutting blueprints are “highly executable” and “borne out of specific targets for specific units.”