Analyst: Singulair might draw at-risk copy

More news about Merck and Teva: The branded drugs giant could be threatened by a copycat Singulair sooner than expected, analysts say. Merck already faces a patent challenge from Teva on Singulair, the allergy-and-asthma med that brought $4.3 billion to the company's coffers last year. And that litigation raises the possibility that Teva might chance an at-risk launch of the blockbuster drug as early as August.

Credit Suisse Merck-watcher Catherine Arnold wrote in an investor note that Merck is likely to prevail when the two companies meet in court in February. But then again, Teva is known for its aggressive challenges to Big Pharma. Just consider Wyeth, as Pharmalot points out. Teva ambushed Wyeth with a generic version of the acid-reflux remedy Protonix right in the middle of the two companies' patent fight over the drug. Teva stopped shipping its Protonix copy quickly, but not before making a huge dent in Wyeth's sales.

Investors are still spooked by that prospect, Arnold writes, and justifiably so. Just the fear of it could prompt Merck to cut a deal with Teva. It might allow the Israeli company to start selling an authorized copy of Singulair some months before the 2012 patent expiration, for instance.

- read the Pharmalot post