As in previous years, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) raised the price of Copaxone, its brand drug for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, by 10% at the start of 2013. The company also raised the price of Azilect, its brand drug for the treatment of symptoms of Parkinson's disease, by the same amount. The price hike will compensate for the expected drop in Copaxone sales in 2013, due to rising competition, after record sales in 2012.
Teva raised the price of Copaxone by 15% at the start of 2011 and by 39% at the start of 2010. Teva's competitors also raised prices for their multiple sclerosis treatments, including Merck KGaA for Rebif, and Biogen Idec Inc. (Nasdaq: BIIB) for Tysabri.
Teva said in response, "The price of Copaxone reflects the value of the drug, which in addition to its clinical advantages, includes support and services for patients. Copaxone is competitively priced compared with other treatments for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis, and its cost is covered by most insurance companies."
Taking action against generic Copaxone
Copaxone is Teva's best-selling product, with $2.94 billion in sales in January-September 2012. It has the highest share of the multiple sclerosis treatment market, accounting for 41% of prescriptions at the end of 2012.
Teva does not disclose how much Copaxone accounts for its net profit, but analysts estimate the figure at 40-60%.
Copaxone sales are projected to slip to $3.7-3.9 billion in 2013, the first time that annual sales will fall, due to rising competition from oral treatments for multiple sclerosis (Copaxone is injected). Two oral treatments have been approved today: Gilenya, made by Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS; LSE: NOV; SWX: NOVZ); and Aubagio, made by Sanofi SA (Euronext: SAN; NYSE: SNY) Biogen's oral treatment, BG-12, is scheduled for launch in a few weeks.
Teva's oral multiple sclerosis drug, Laquinimod, failed to meet the primary endpoints in its Phase III clinical trial, and only met them after amending the statistics. The company is therefore holding a new study, which has delayed the drug's market launch.
In addition to the competition from oral treatments, Copaxone will face generic challenges from several companies. Teva is conducting patent litigation against the generic drug developers, and has chalked up some successes, and it is also working in regulatory channels. Teva has already filed four petitions with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking it not to approve generic versions of Copaxone without clinical trials because the drug is complex and difficult to replicate. If the generic companies have to carry out clinical trials, they will delay the market launch of generic Copaxone by 2-3 years. The FDA has rejected the petitions, but not made a final decision about clinical trials.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 8, 2013
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