Headquarters: Petah Tikva, Israel
2016 generic drug sales: $9.8 billion
Being the world’s largest generic drug player certainly comes with its challenges. With 57,000 full-time employees around the globe, Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ranked No. 1 among the world’s top generic drugmakers, raking in $9.8 billion with its copycats last year.
That's in line with the drugmaker's finish in FiercePharma's 2014 ranking, and Teva has bulked up even further in 2016, purchasing Allergan's generics for $40.5 billion.
But industry bragging rights weren't enough for Teva's restive shareholders. Before the drugmaker even closed the deal in August, it faced investor angst over concerns it paid too much. “They grossly overpaid, there’s no doubt about it,” one investment banker told the Financial Times last year.
Those concerns would prove to be just the start of Teva’s recent troubles as problem after problem cropped up. The drugmaker said goodbye to its CEO, settled a massive bribery case with U.S. officials and lowered its 2017 guidance, all within a few months.
Facing those challenges, an Israeli newspaper in March reported that Teva is considering thousands of layoffs.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to combat the trends so badly hurting the industry, Teva last fall committed to a high number of launches—1,500 per year—to propel its business to 5% growth in the years to come.
“Our global pipeline of generic products positions us for an increasing number of first-to-file opportunities and other key generic launches, as well as further expanding our product portfolio,” Teva wrote in its annual 20-F filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Overall, the drugmaker has 330 product applications awaiting FDA approval, according to that filing, and 71 tentative nods from the agency. Teva said it’s the first-to-file company for 95 of those products, which comes with a 6-month monopoly and its attendant revenue boom. And it disclosed a staggering 1,655 generic drug approvals in Europe last year.
The company is just kicking off its launch of AirDuo RespiClick and an authorized generic of that product, which is an alternative to GlaxoSmithKline’s respiratory giant Advair that Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat called a “very important launch” for Teva.
Like Mylan and several other generics firms, Teva is under investigation for possible generic pricing collusion.
While Teva pressures branded drugmakers with its cheap copycats, the company faces its own generic threat with its branded Copaxone, a blockbuster MS med. Already fighting off copycats to its original Copaxone formula, Teva is expected to soon face generic erosion on its follow-up 40 mg version. After losing numerous court battles to defend that med, the drugmaker caught a lucky break when Momenta and partner Sandoz received a complete response letter from the FDA related to manufacturing.