Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA:US) plans to boost work in women’s health beyond fertility as it narrows its branded-drug focus amid competition to its best- selling medicine, Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Levin said.
“Women’s health in the pharmaceutical industry is always focused on fertility and infertility,” Levin said yesterday in an interview at the annual health-care conference sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in San Francisco. “Contraception is really important, fertility is important, but there are many other diseases” that affect only women. “Nobody has taken leadership; this is where we want to go.”
Levin outlined a new strategy to investors in December that involves dropping some projects to focus on areas such as neurology, respiratory conditions and health care for female consumers. Teva, the world’s largest maker of generic drugs, plans on $460 million to $500 million in women’s health sales, or about 6 percent of expected revenue from branded products, this year.
The drug lineup at Petach Tikva, Israel-based Teva includes oral contraceptives and hormone therapies for menopause. Levin said the company may “contemplate” entering treatment for fibroids, non-cancerous tumors in the uterus that typically occur in a woman’s late reproductive years, causing pain during menstruation and sexual intercourse.
Much of Teva’s focus is still in the reproductive area. At the annual American Society of Reproductive Medicine meeting in October, Teva published successful late-stage trial results for Milprosa, a weekly progesterone vaginal ring for women undergoing in-vitro fertilization, and for Quartette, an ascending-dose, extended oral contraceptive.
Copaxone, a daily injection for multiple sclerosis, is Teva’s top-selling product, accounting for 21 percent of the company’s revenue in the third quarter. It will lose patent protection by 2015, and is already facing competition from newer oral drugs.
Copaxone is 70 percent used by women, Levin said.
“Our understanding of women’s health stems from that,” the CEO said today during a question-and-answer session at the conference. “It’s a huge opportunity. Women are great consumers of medicines, they understand what it is that they need to make themselves happier and healthier.”
Procter & Gamble Ties
Teva already has “an important alliance,” including over- the-counter products, with Procter & Gamble Co. (PG:US), which will help Teva expand in the field, Levin said.
Teva will be “data-driven” in deciding which drugs to pursue for an expansion in cancer treatment as advanced-stage results are expected in coming months, Levin also said during yesterday’s interview.
The drugmaker has “a robust set of businesses in oncology,” including an investigational anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody designed to unleash the body’s immune-system defenses against cancer, Levin said. At the same time, it will be “very hard to be successful in this area” as competitors like Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY:US) have strong candidates, he said.
Teva has agreed to finance as much as $50 million in research and development with CureTech Ltd., an Israeli biotechnology company in which Teva owns a controlling stake. Results for mid-stage studies for colorectal cancer are expected this quarter and melanoma cancer results may be announced in the three months through June, according to a Teva spokesman.
“We will wait to see the results of our clinical trials in those areas to determine how best to drive that,” Levin said.
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