Teva’s New Version of Copaxone Could Be a Tough Bet for Insurers

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In a moment of desperation, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE:TEVA) is attempting to persuade multiple sclerosis patients who currently use its drug, Copaxone, to switch to a newer version of the drug, which will have patent protection until 2030, Bloomberg reports.

Copaxone is Teva’s top selling drug, and currently brings in $4.3 billion in annual sales for the company. In addition, the product accounts for more than half of the company’s profit. The drug’s U.S. patents, however, are set to expire in May, and generic copies of the medicine may become available as early as that date.

The newer version of the drug is essentially the same in all respects, but is more convenient in that the injectable drug need only be taken just three times a week, as opposed to a daily injection with the older version.

Bloomberg reports that Teva’s toughest sell is likely to be the insurers who know that cheaper, generic versions of the drug will become available soon, and that the new version offers no new health benefits besides being more convenient than the original.

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