Generics giant Teva join PhRMA? AbbVie, others aren't having it

Teva

Israel’s Teva wants in on pharma’s trade association--but its brand-only counterparts aren’t too thrilled with the idea of having a generics giant among their ranks.

Teva’s request from earlier this year to join the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has some branded drugmakers up in arms, The New York Times reports. AbbVie EVP Carlos Alban, for one, has argued in a letter seen by the Times that acceptance of Teva would dilute the association’s “emphasis on innovation” and questioned how PhRMA would handle the “differences of opinion” and “internal conflicts” that could arise between Teva and the companies whose patents it seeks to invalidate.

Teva, though, believes it belongs. While it may be the world’s No. 1 generic producer, it also racked up more than $6 billion in branded sales last year, thanks in large part to multiple sclerosis blockbuster Copaxone. And that’s more than some of PhRMA’s brand-only members can say.

And PhRMA’s leaders have plenty of reasons of their own to welcome Teva with open arms, the NYT notes--especially at a time when drug-pricing scrutiny and backlash is surging. Having Teva--which has long expressed a commitment to reaching patients with affordable meds--on the roster could help PhRMA dispute price-gouging accusations. And it would also bring in millions of dollars that the group needs now that those same accusations have put it under serious pressure.

Industry-watchers expect PhRMA’s board to consider Teva’s application at a meeting later this month, the Times reports. But whichever way its decision goes, the controversy highlights the diminishing boundaries between branded and copycat drugmakers. Teva’s not the only company that houses divisions for both copycat and innovative meds under one roof; Novartis, which encompasses knockoff powerhouse Sandoz, has been doing it for years, and last year Sandoz’ U.S. president Peter Goldschmidt told FiercePharma he didn’t know why other companies hadn’t followed suit. Pfizer also has a newly beefed-up established products unit featuring generic injectables specialist Hospira.

And then there are the biosimilars makers, who are fighting off one another as patent-holders even as they seek to bring their own biologic copies to market. Amgen, for one, sparked a legal tussle with Sandoz over its biosimilar for aged Neupogen, all the while hard at work on a biosimilar pipeline of its own.

- read the NYT story (sub. req.)

Special ReportTop 20 generics companies by 2014 revenue - Teva

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