Sandoz, a generic drug manufacturer affiliated with Novartis, has teamed up with Momenta to attempt to bring a generic version of Copaxone to market.
Copaxone is a patented drug based on Israeli applied academic research that was developed by Teva, and is used to treat multiple schlerosis. Teva is the world’s most successful generic drug manufacturer, and, by manufacturing generic medicines has hurt Novartis’ sales in the past. This time round, Novartis is hurting Teva, with Teva’s shares having dropped some 10% since Thursday.
Teva is not giving up without a battle however. Teva maintains that their patents are valid until 2014 in the US and 2015 in Europe and are threatening to sue. Some analysts believe that the patent will be difficult to defend in court. That as may be, the drug is very complex to manufacture, and it is not clear that Momenta and Sandoz will manage to synthesize an effective version.
Copaxone sold in excess of $500 million last quarter and accounts for maybe 20% of Teva’s earnings.