Analyst: Teva's Lovenox copy on its way

As if to underscore just why Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) might want access to Genzyme's (NASDAQ: GENZ) expensive drugs for rare diseases, a key pharma analyst reports that Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NASDAQ: TEVA) is close to launching a copycat version of the Sanofi blood-clotting drug Lovenox. It would be the second Lovenox generic to win FDA approval--and a second blow to Lovenox's annual sales of $4 billion.

Sanford Bernstein's Tim Anderson says a Teva version "is likely to be on the market in the coming months and before year end," Reuters reports. And this after Novartis' Sandoz unit, working with Momenta Pharmaceuticals, won a surprisingly early OK for its Lovenox copy. Sanofi had been expecting--hoping--to maintain Lovenox revenues for longer than that.

"The importance of this to Sanofi-Aventis is that it means quicker pricing erosion, assuming Teva's product indeed gets approved," Anderson tells the news service. "Our understanding is that Sanofi has been cutting the effective price of its branded Lovenox to maintain share with purchasers, but a new, second generic entrant could frustrate these efforts."

Sanofi has made an offer for the U.S.-based biotech drugmaker Genzyme, aiming to get into the rare disease market--and to add Genzyme's revenues to its own income statement. The company faces patent expirations on several key drugs in the next few years, and it's in need of new sales to fill those gaps. Coming sooner than expected, Lovenox losses to generic competition could be a bigger hole than expected, too.

- read the Reuters news