Teva regains exclusivity on Merck meds

Rarely do we experience a court ruling that could benefit a Big Pharma and a generics maker at the same time. But as the Wall Street Journal points out, both Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Merck are likely to cheer an appeals court decision on the blood pressure drugs Cozaar and Hyzaar.

The new ruling awards 180-day exclusivity to Teva on its versions of both drugs, reversing a lower court's decision to deny that first-to-market advantage. Clearly, that's a win for Teva; it will have six months as the only copycat provider of two of the most popular hypertension meds on the market.

But it could be a win for Merck, too. Ever since the district court ruled last July that Teva had forfeit its exclusivity rights, Merck has been expecting a whole slew of Cozaar and Hyzaar copycats to hit the market at once. Scads of competition tends to bring drug prices down fast, so Merck would have suffered lots of lost sales on both meds. Now that Teva has its exclusivity back, Merck's branded meds will only be competing against one rival apiece.

That means Teva can charge more, enriching its own income statement. And it means that fewer users of the branded versions will switch to generics, because the price advantage won't be nearly so big. Expect both meds to launch next month.

- get the release from Teva
- read the Health Blog post
- see the Reuters news