Teva benefits as Merck KGaA pulls MS drug

There is one less competitor for Teva's multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) share rose on Nasdaq and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) after Germany's Merck KGaA (XETRA: MRK) pulled its cladribine oral treatment of multiple sclerosis, citing concerns by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The company said "Merck believes that data from ongoing clinical trials are very unlikely to address the (FDA's) requirements," adding new trials would not justify the costs.

The news will likely benefit Teva by removing a potential competitor to its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, as well as for its oral treatment, Laquinimod, which is under development.

Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS; LSE: NOV; SWX: NOVZ) already markets an oral multiple sclerosis treatment, Gilenya, and other companies are also developing oral treatments as well as generic versions of Copaxone.

Teva's share price rose 1.4% on Nasdaq yesterday to $47.53, giving a market cap of $44.7 billion, and rose 0.1% by early afternoon on the TASE today to NIS 161.80.

Merck KGaA added that it will withdraw cladribine from Australia and Russia, where it had been approved and is sold under the name Movectro.

In March, the FDA asked Merck to either provide additional analyses of study results it had submitted, or to carry out new trials. The European Medicines Agency (EMEA) rejected cladribine in September, citing some cases of cancer that emerged during a trial.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on June 22, 2011

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2011

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