Teva breaks deal with Bayer to launch Yaz copy

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NASDAQ: TEVA) has raced into the U.S. market with copycat versions of Yaz, one of Bayer's key contraceptive drugs. But has the Israeli generics giant jumped the gun?

Bayer says so--and has filed a lawsuit to prove it. After all, the German drugmaker thought it had its Yasmin and Yaz birth control products protected until next year. Bayer had agreed to supply an authorized generic of both pills to Teva in exchange for royalties, and the generics giant agreed not to launch its Yaz copy before July 2011 unless other companies got into the market earlier, Reuters reports. Bayer is asking the court to block Teva from selling the generic version now until the patents expire.

Teva's launch of its Yaz copycat "comes as a surprise," Deutsche Bank analysts say in a note to investors (as quoted by the news service), "as we had previously expected Teva to launch generic Yaz in line with its agreement for an authorized generic from July 2011." The firm estimates that Bayer could lose €200 million ($244 million) in sales of the drug this year and €250 million next year.

Teva, on the other hand, obviously has plenty to gain. And with 180 days of market exclusivity--from its first-to-file status with FDA--it will have six months to take full advantage of it. Unless a judge intervenes, that is.

- read the release from Teva
- see the Reuters story
- get more from Bloomberg