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Teva to ditch R&D in cancer and women’s health

Published on 06/10/14 at 03:04pm
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Teva will stop research into oncology and women’s health in order to cut costs and focus more on generics and its core therapeutic areas in respiratory and drugs for the central nervous system.

The Israeli drugmaker, the world’s biggest producer of copycat medicines, says it will discontinue or divest a total of 14 projects in its pipeline, according to a statement.

These projects amount to more than $150 million in R&D costs in 2015 and more than $200 million for each of 2016 and 2017. The higher investment in core areas will raise R&D productivity without increasing the overall R&D budget, Teva says.

Teva will look to use these savings to help shore up its core therapeutic areas, namely drugs for the central nervous system (CNS) and respiratory – whilst another part will support the company’s drive to improve efficiency.

In women's health and oncology, where Teva has a significant commercial presence, it says it will focus on market-ready or close-to-market products to maximise profitability.

Teva adds that it will also continue to “evaluate opportunities for commercially oriented activities and collaborations”.

Currently the company’s biggest patented medicine is the MS drug Copaxone (glatiramer acetate), which makes around $4 billion a year. The drug is coming under threat from both generics and newer pills for MS however, and Teva expects to lose to lose $550 million to copycat versions this year alone as patents start to slide.

A higher dose version of the medicine was approved by the FDA earlier this year, giving the firm an extended patent life for this new dose, but it will still feel the pinch in the coming year when generics flood the market. This announcement is being made with an eye to these sales losses in the future.

Teva’s president and chief executive Erez Vigodman, says: “The decision announced today demonstrates progress in our efforts to solidify the foundation of the company, drive organic growth and ensure that we are pursuing the highest potential opportunities, both for patients and for the company. It will allow us to more efficiently and effectively focus and build leadership in key disease areas and deliver sustainable long-term value.

Vigodman adds that the company “will discuss this decision following its strategic review as well as other financial information as part of its third-quarter earnings presentation”.

On the issue of securing the R&D budget for the firm’s core therapeutic areas, Vigodman says: “Teva is committed to being a world-leader in CNS and respiratory, both areas underpinned by significant and growing unmet patient needs.

“Our late-stage pipeline assets are expected to generate great value – out of the 30 plus product launches we anticipate by 2019, with a total of over $4 billion in new revenue on a risk-adjusted basis, over 20 products will be launched in these two core therapeutic areas.”

Ben Adams 

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