US Court Backs Teva Patents On MS Drug Copaxone

Teva had accused rival companies of infringing on patents covering the drug's chemical composition, and will now be free from generic competition until 2014.

Shares of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. soared Monday in the first trading day after a federal court reaffirmed patents protecting the drugmaker's biggest brand-name product, the multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone.

The Israeli company said Saturday the decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York covers several patents, the last of which expires in 2015, and that it prevents other drugmakers from selling their versions of the drug until then. It also said the decision should prevent the Food and Drug Administration from approving generic versions of the drug until 2014.

Teva had sued Mylan Laboratories Inc., Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc., Sandoz Inc. and Natco Pharmaceuticals, accusing the rival companies of infringing on patents covering the drug's chemical composition, method of use and the manufacturing process behind the product.

Teva is the 10th largest global pharmaceutical company, according to drug data firm IMS Health. It expects $3.8 billion in sales this year from Copaxone. Teva is primarily a maker of generic drugs. Copaxone is its main brand-name offering.

The ruling removes a major uncertainty hanging over Teva shares, Credit Suisse analyst Michael Faerm wrote in a note to investors. The analyst called it a "resounding victory" for Teva.

"Although a majority of investors expected a Teva win ... the magnitude of the potential impact of a loss to Teva's earnings and share price kept many investors on the sidelines, and this event will likely bring some of them into the stock," Faerm wrote.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Momenta said in a separate statement it intends to appeal. Its shares tumbled $3.07, or 18 percent, to $13.94 in late morning trading.

Mylan, based in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, said in a brief statement it intends to evaluate its options for appeal. It added that the decision does not affect its earnings guidance. Its stock dropped 2.4 percent, or 50 cents, to $20.73.

A representative from Sandoz, a unit of Swiss drugmaker Novartis, declined comment. Natco, which is based in India, did not immediately return a request for comment Monday from The Associated Press.

Teva also said earlier this month that a longer-acting version of Copaxone did well in a late-stage clinical trial. Copaxone is injected daily. The newer version is designed to be taken only three times a week.

U.S.-traded shares of Teva climbed 5.6 percent, or $2.12, to $40.13 in late-morning trading Monday, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.6 percent.

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