Teva's 2nd-gen Copaxone makes the grade

No question about it, Copaxone is still Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' ($TEVA) leading drug. And Teva wants to keep sales up--and not just until generic competition arrives in 2015. That's why it's been investing so heavily in developing a new, less-frequent dosing schedule. If the new, higher-dose Copaxone version can grab a foothold, then Teva stands to keep more of the multibillion-dollar drug's share of the MS market.

Of course, there are plenty of obstacles between Teva and that goal. A new round of multiple sclerosis treatments, for one thing. Biogen Idec's ($BIIB) forthcoming drug is a key contender. Genzyme, meanwhile, is trying to build an MS franchise of its own--and, according to a recent lawsuit, is poaching Copaxone reps to prepare.

But for the higher-dose version of Copaxone, it's so far, so good. Teva unveiled data from its GALA study today, showing that the three-times-a-week product cut annual relapse rates by 34.4%, compared with placebo. The drug also reduced the number of new and enlarging brain lesions, Globes reports. And patients appeared to tolerate the higher dose well.

The GALA data--which will be presented at an MS conference next year--could support a regulatory approval in mid-2013, analysts have said. That would give the company a couple of years to persuade Copaxone patients to switch--provided it can hold off the new rivals.

- read the Globes story

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