Teva generics benefit from COVID-19 bump––but the boom may not last

Teva production
Teva recently completed a multibillion-dollar restructuring of its business operations. (Teva)

With its multibillion-dollar restructuring plan in the rearview mirror, Teva is pinning its future growth on two of its branded meds with high hopes. But generics are still central to the Israeli drugmaker's business, and increased demand due to COVID-19 gave Teva a welcome gift in the first three months of the year.

Teva's European sales of its generic and over-the-counter products saw an estimated $100 million boost in the first quarter as the novel coronavirus pandemic sent demand for easy-to-stockpile meds through the roof, CEO Kare Schultz told analysts Thursday. 

In all, Teva's EU generics portfolio hit just over $1 billion in sales on the quarter––a 12% jump from the same period in 2019. 

Despite the promising uptick abroad, Schultz said Teva doesn't expect the COVID-19 bump to last long as market conditions normalize and demand goes down. 

"It’s a very, very mixed bag situation," Schultz said. "It’s not really dramatic, but it’s the way the swing factor will be, as far as there is one."

In the U.S., generics sales looked slightly different but still showed promise. Stateside generics sales totaled $952 million on the quarter, a 1% drop from the same period last year. Continued pricing pressure was offset somewhat by the launch of a Rituxan biosimilar, Truxima, and increased demand for some respiratory products due to COVID-19.

Amid the pandemic, Teva hasn't seen a major hit to its generics operations due to a diversified supply chain that doesn't rely wholly on active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) and raw materials produced in China and India, Schultz said.

Teva operates 15 manufacturing facilities spread through Eastern and Western Europe that have allowed the Israeli drugmaker to keep production steady despite swings in patient demand and national stockpiling, he added.

RELATED: Teva's global cutback spree is done. Now, it's aiming to grow with Ajovy, Austedo

On the whole, Teva posted $4.35 billion in revenues in the first quarter, a 5% increase from the same time last year.