SCOTUS asks generic Copaxone rivals for response to Teva's delay bid

On Monday, Teva ($TEVA) asked Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to consider a plea to block generic competition to Copaxone until SCOTUS has weighed its appeal. And now, he wants to know what generics makers think about it.

As Bloomberg reports, Roberts has asked challengers Momenta Pharmaceuticals ($MNTA), Novartis' ($NVS) Sandoz and Mylan ($MYL) to respond to Teva's bid for a stay, which could delay generic competition for more than a year. They now have until April 14 to respond, potentially making April 15 "a big deal," Sanford Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal told the news service.

The Supreme Court last week agreed to hear Teva's appeal of a lower court's ruling on the multiple sclerosis drug. Without the court order, generics companies could press ahead even before the Israeli drugmaker can make its case, releasing their versions of Copaxone as early as May 24--the expiration date for Teva's patents. They would do so at a risk; a Teva win would put them on the hook for the company's lost profits.

But even in that case, the price concessions Teva would be forced to make "are for all practical purposes irreversible," the company told Bloomberg. Copaxone rakes in $3.2 billion in annual U.S. sales, accounting for more than half the drugmaker's profits. And waiting to see if generics will endanger those sales is not a risk Teva wants to take.

So as it waits for the stay decision, it will do what's within its power to keep its top-seller's revenue stream protected--and that's switching patients over to a new, long-acting version of the drug. Its patient outreach efforts have so far impressed analysts, some of whom now believe the Petah Tivkah-based pharma may actually come through with its promise to convert 30% to 50% of Copaxone users.

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Special Reports: Top 10 Drug Patent Losses of 2014 - Copaxone | Top 10 Generics Makers by 2012 Revenue - Teva - Novartis (Sandoz) - Mylan