A U.S. Supreme Court justice asked generic-drug makers to respond to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA)’s bid for perhaps a yearlong delay on competition to its top-selling Copaxone multiple-sclerosis drug.
The request by Chief Justice John Roberts comes a week after the court agreed to hear Teva’s appeal in a patent case that could forestall generic competition in the U.S. until September 2015. Teva yesterday asked Roberts to block those rival drugs until the court rules, probably early next year.
Teva is battling Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. (MNTA), which has developed a generic version with Novartis AG (NOVN)’s Sandoz, and Mylan Inc. (MYL) Without a temporary order, those companies could begin marketing as soon as Teva’s other patents expire on May 24. The companies haven’t said whether they will press ahead with their marketing plans while the Supreme Court fight plays out.
Copaxone brings in $3.2 billion in annual U.S. sales and accounts for more than half Teva’s profit. In its filing yesterday, Teva said generic entry next month would mean the “decimation of the market for Copaxone.”
“Even if Teva ultimately prevails, the price concessions it would be forced to make are for all practical purposes irreversible,” said the company, which is based in Petach Tikva, Israel.
Roberts today gave the generic-drug companies until April 14 to respond. The court often seeks a response on requests for temporary orders.
Ronny Gal, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. who has a buy rating on Teva’s stock, said investors will be keeping an eye on the court starting the next day. “The 15th should be a big deal,” he said in a telephone interview.
Should the generic-drug companies press ahead with their plans, they would be at risk of having to pay Teva for its lost profit.
Momenta, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, fell 20 cents to $11.04. Momenta fell 16.9 percent on March 31, the day the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case.
A federal appeals court ruled last year that the disputed Teva patent didn’t clearly outline what the company claimed was invented. In November, Roberts refused to put the appeals court ruling on hold while the justices decided whether to take up Teva’s appeal.
The case is Teva v. Sandoz, 13-854.
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