Teva challenges two Aids drug patents

The ethical version of the drug, Truvada, brought Gilead $1.54 billion in revenue for its owner Gilead in the first three quarters of 2008.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) is known for its ability to acquire and integrate rival companies, but it has not abandoned for a moment its primary business - challenging patents on ethical drugs in a bid to be the first on the market with a generic version. The company is now challenging two patents owned by US company Gilead Sciences Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) on its AIDS drug Truvada.

The two patents in question are owned by Emory University and licensed exclusively to Gilead.

Truvada generated $1.54 billion in revenue for Gilead in the first three quarters of 2008. The company, which is traded on Nasdaq at a market cap of $43 billion, said in a notice to investors on Friday that Teva intended to challenge its patents, but stressed that these were just two out of the ten the drug is protected by. However, the patents Teva is challenging are the ones that have the longest duration out of the ten, and if Teva is unsuccessful in challenging them they will not expire until 2020-2021. The other eight patents will expire from 2010 onwards.

Gilead said it was currently reviewing the notice and had 45 days from the date of receipt to commence a patent infringement lawsuit against Teva. Such a lawsuit would restrict the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from approving Teva’s Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for up to 30 months or until a district court decision against Gilead, whichever occurs first.

"Friday's announcement actually signals the start of a 30-month race," said Leader Capital Markets analysts Yoav Burgan in a note to investors yesterday.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on November 17, 2008

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008

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