Wyeth took a blow in federal court yesterday, when a judge denied a preliminary injunction that would have kept generics makers from selling their own versions of the blockbuster heartburn drug Protonix. Wyeth stock dropped on the news, and Citigroup downgraded the shares from "buy" to "hold" because of it.
Both Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Sun Pharmaceuticals are vying to launch generic Protonix, Wyeth's third best-selling drug with $2.5 billion in sales for the 12 months ended June 30. Teva got the go-ahead for its version last month; Sun expects to hear yea or nay soon. Technically, the Protonix patent doesn't begin expiring until 2010, but Teva has been fighting Wyeth over the protections since 2004. Teva says it will analyze the new court decision before proceeding full-tilt with a Protonix launch--at least that's one bit of this news that Wyeth can be happy about.Â
Wyeth stumbles badly trying to develop new drugs. Report