Teva says no thank you to generic Lipitor

Generics makers are preparing to flood the market with copycat Lipitor, now that Ranbaxy Laboratories' exclusivity period is expiring. But Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) won't be joining the throng. The Israeli company is opting out.

Teva was ready to go with an approval for its Lipitor version, but the company decided not to follow through, Teva Americas CEO William Marth told The Economic Times. "It's a tough decision, a hard decision, not to launch at this time. That doesn't mean that sometime in the future we may launch atorvastatin."

Three reasons Marth cited for the decision: Teva would only be able to offer a 30-tablet bottle. Making copycat Lipitor would have required a big chunk of its API and oral-dosage capacity. Plus, the generic Lipitor market is more crowded than Teva had expected; 8 companies are planning new Lipitor generics, while Ranbaxy and Watson Pharmaceuticals already sell versions of the cholesterol drug.

Perhaps another element is at play here as well: Teva's new CEO, Jeremy Levin, just took the reins. He's working on a new overall strategy for the company, and generic Lipitor's resource-hogging on the manufacturing side may not be part of that vision.

The choice to forego generic Lipitor and a few other products will cost Teva about $150 million in sales, Marth told Economic Times. Teva already netted $300 million off Lipitor's patent expiration, under an agreement struck with Ranbaxy in November.

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