Copaxone, Teva

Copaxone (glatiramer acetate)
Multiple Sclerosis
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
Global Sales 2012: $3.996 billion
U.S. Sales 2012: $2.9 billion
Expiration Date: May 2014

Like other drugmakers facing major patent losses, Teva ($TEVA) has been working for years to prepare for Copaxone's ride into the sunset. The company made a string of deals in 2010 and 2011, including its purchase of Cephalon, the U.S.-based maker of narcolepsy treatments Nuvigil and Provigil, and the cancer drug Treanda. Before those deals, Copaxone accounted for two-thirds of the company's specialty pharma sales and almost one-fifth of sales overall. And even last year, Copaxone made up a good chunk of the company's growth, with an increase of 12%.

For 2013, the Copaxone story could be more mixed. In addition to competition from Novartis' ($NVS) new oral treatment Gilenya, Copaxone has to deal with Biogen Idec's ($BIIB) Tecfidera, another pill that has hit the ground at a sprint. After 17% growth in the first quarter of 2013, Copaxone sales grew by just 9% for the second quarter, when Tecfidera was launched. Whether that trend continues into the third quarter remains to be seen, of course.

It also remains to be seen--as Teva is happy to point out--whether a generic version of the drug will actually hit the market when the May 2014 patent expires. Teva says Copaxone is tough to copy, and it doesn't think a generics rival could move quickly enough to launch by then. But U.S.-based Mylan ($MYL), which first challenged the Copaxone patent, says it will be ready and waiting. Meanwhile, CEO Jeremy Levin isn't taking chances; the company's cost-cutting program just grew to $2 billion, with 5,000 jobs on the block.

For more:
Special Report: Top 20 Orphan Drugs by 2018 - Copaxone
Teva plots 5,000 more job cuts in $2B savings drive
U.S. court upturns Teva's patents on cash-cow Copaxone
Amid $2B in cost-cutting, Teva's sales suffer from generic erosion
Levin lays out 4-year plan to turn Teva into a brand

-- Tracy Staton (email | Twitter)

Copaxone, Teva
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