Teva posts loss, but barometer's rising

Just as folks follow Big Pharma to keep tabs on the whole branded-drugs industry, it's possible to take the pulse of the generics market by keeping track of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. And if Teva's projections--if not its fourth-quarter report--are any indication, copycat drugs have a 100-watt future, at least in 2009.

Teva's buyout of Barr Pharmaceuticals weighed down its 4Q results, pushing the company into the red to the tune of $688 million, compared to a $570 million profit same quarter last year. But excluding acquisition costs of $992 million and other once-off charges, the company's net income grew by 11 percent. Sales also jumped by 11 percent to a record $2.85 billion

CEO Shlomo Yanai was positively cheery about the near term, too. With recession plaguing most of the world, Yanai noted that "generics are a solution for governments wanting to cut costs during the global crisis" and "we believe demand for generic drugs will rise."

Plus, with more and more big branded meds going off patent, Teva has the opportunity to nab more and more market share. Indeed, its sales growth, though partly fueled by its two branded drugs, was mostly dependent upon new copycats of GlaxoSmithKline's epilepsy/psych med Lamictal and Novartis' blood pressure drug Lotrel. Big Pharma's loss in this case is Teva's gain.

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