At the beginning of the month, Teva brought out a generic version of Bayer’s YAZ birth control pill to U.S. markets earlier than the drugmakers had previously agreed. In response, Bayer has filed a law suit.
Israel’s Teva, the world’s largest generics maker, launched the contraceptive under the brand name Gianvi. According to Teva, income from YAZ in the US for 2009 was $782 million and Teva claims a 180-day period of marketing exclusivity for introducing a generic version of the drug. Bayer in 2008 agreed to supply the pills to Teva in exchange for royalty payments, cutting its losses from cheaper competition. As part of that deal, Teva would not have launched YAZ in the U.S. before July 2011, unless other generics makers managed to enter the market earlier.
Now Watson and Novartis Sandoz have tried to market generic versions of YAZ in the U.S. and Teva apparently sees this as opening the door for them to do so as well. Bayer is suing Teva. According to estimates, following the generic drug release Bayer could lose 200 million euros ($243 million) in 2010 sales and 250 million euros in 2011.
The product group comprising Yasmin, YAZ and Yasminelle, all based on the hormones ethinylestradiol (estrogen) and drospirenone, are Bayer’s best-selling pharmaceutical product, generating 1.3 billion euros in revenues last year. Other competing hormone birth control drugs are manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and by Warner Chilcott.