Teva's new migraine drug helps contain profit fall

Teva has reduced its spending by $2.5 billion since initiating the restructuring last year.

May 5, 2019 12:29
2 minute read.
Teva CEO

The CEO of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Kare Schultz speaks during a news conference to discuss the company's 2019 outlooks in Tel Aviv, Israel February 19, 2019. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)


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Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd on Thursday forecast a sharp rise in revenue next year from its new migraine drug Ajovy and reported a slightly smaller-than-expected drop in first-quarter profit.

The world’s largest generic drugmaker is counting on Ajovy and Huntington’s treatment Austedo to help revive its fortunes after restructuring to tackle a debt crisis.

Sales from its blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone have been declining in the face of generic competition, which is also hurting sales of respiratory drug ProAir.

Teva has reduced its spending by $2.5 billion since initiating the restructuring last year.

Chief Executive Kare Schultz on Thursday said the company is on track to cut $3 billion in spending by the end of this year while continuing to lower debt. Teva has already cut its workforce by 10,400 and Schultz expects to cut several thousand more jobs this year.

“Our focus is on stabilizing our global generics business and ensuring the success of our long-term organic growth drivers, especially Ajovy and Austedo,” Schultz said.

Austedo’s sales more than doubled to $74 million and are expected to reach $350 million for the full year.

ADVERTISEMENT Launched in September, Ajovy had US sales of $20 million in the first quarter. The drug to prevent often debilitating migraine headaches is on track to meet the company’s 2019 target of $150 million and substantially more in 2020, Schultz said.

Eli Lilly and Co and Amgen Inc also began selling similar new migraine treatments last year, creating fierce early competition and allowing insurers and pharmacy benefit mangers to demand steep discounts to cover them in the United States.

Lilly, which reported results on Tuesday, said its migraine drug Emgality had sales of about $14 million, half of what analysts were expecting, with revenue limited by a program that allows patients to try newer drugs at little or no cost. First-quarter sales of Amgen’s market leader Aimovig were also well short of expectations at $59 million compared with $83.3 million projected by analysts.

About two thirds of Ajovy patients are covered by insurance and discussions are ongoing with insurers not yet providing coverage, Teva said.

Its strategy is to make the drug available to all patients with a prescription regardless of their insurance, Schultz said. Teva then negotiates with the insurer to obtain payment.

Amgen said that 200,000 US patients have been prescribed Aimovig, with about half of prescriptions being filled free.

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