Teva accuses Genzyme of stealing Copaxone reps

Stop, thief! That's what Teva Pharmaceuticals is saying to Genzyme, in a dispute over sales reps. It seems a former Teva sales manager who defected to Genzyme is accused of poaching his former co-workers. And it's all part of Genzyme's plan to challenge Teva's multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone when its own MS drugs come to market, Teva says.

Teva ($TEVA) sued Genzyme, claiming that its former sales manager Kevin Middleton coaxed 11 of his Teva colleagues to leave for jobs at Genzyme, Bloomberg reports. The Israel-based drugmaker says Middleton violated a non-solicitation agreement with his former employer--and, what's more, that he gave his new bosses confidential information about Copaxone.

Middleton oversaw Copaxone sales, Teva's suit claims, for most of the 8 years he spent at the company. Till Teva bought Cephalon, Copaxone was one of its few branded drugs, not to mention the company's biggest seller at $3.9 billion last year. So, if Middleton passed private skinny on the drug to Genzyme--which is developing an MS franchise of its own--then Teva was bound to take that seriously.

Indeed, that's the crux of Teva's suit. Genzyme wants to build up an MS-savvy sales force, the lawsuit says, and so it recruited Middleton--and in turn, Middleton recruited his former colleagues--because of their Copaxone expertise.Teva's suit asks the court to call a halt to Genzyme's poaching and order it not to use any confidential information. Sanofi ($SNY), which now owns Genzyme, said it couldn't comment.

- read the Bloomberg story