Teva drops 2.5% after US jury rule

Jury decides Teva's rival firms have valid patents for heartburn drug Protonix.

By RONIT GOODMAN
April 26, 2010 09:45
1 minute read.
Teva drops 2.5% after US jury rule

Teva 88 224. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. dropped the most in three months after a US federal jury ruled that Pfizer Inc and Altana AG have valid patents for the heartburn drug Protonix.

The shares fell 2.5 percent on Sunday, the most since January 24, to close at NIS 226.3 in Tel Aviv.

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The federal jury in Newark, New Jersey, on Friday rejected arguments by Teva and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. that the patent covered an obvious variation of earlier patented compounds in the same family as Protonix. Pfizer can now ask US District Judge Jose Linares to order Teva and Sun to stop selling the drug until the patent expires in January.

“Teva made an at-risk launch of its generic version of Protonix in December 2007,” Natalie Gotlieb, an analyst at Israel Brokerage and Investments Ltd. in Tel Aviv, said in an e-mail note Sunday. “A company with an at-risk launch that has been disqualified by the courts can often be ordered to pay up to three times the profit lost to the brand manufacturer while the generic version was being marketed.”

Teva and Sun conceded they had infringed the patent, which left the jury with only the question of whether the patent was issued properly. Teva, in a statement, said it could make additional invalidity arguments to Linares.

A second trial will be held to determine what New York-based Pfizer should be paid for profit lost since Teva and Sun began selling cheaper versions of the drug two years ago.

Protonix sales reached $1.9 billion in 2007, and then fell 58% to $806 million in 2008, after Petah Tikva-based Teva began selling its generic version. Mumbai-based Sun entered the market in January 2008, a month after Teva.

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