February 13, 2019 / 12:49 PM / 7 months ago

Teva Pharm sees weaker than expected 2019, shares tumble

TEL AVIV/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries forecast lower revenue and profit for 2019 on Wednesday, missing analysts’ expectations, as it faces generic competition for two key branded drugs.

Israel-based Teva, the world’s largest generic drugmaker, is counting on its new migraine drug Ajovy and Huntington’s treatment Austedo to help revive its fortunes after it was forced to restructure to tackle a debt crisis.

Sales from its blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone have been declining due to generic competition, which is also expected to hurt sales of respiratory drug ProAir this year.

“We continue to expect that 2019 will be... a year in which we will experience similar challenges to those of 2018 including the continued erosion of Copaxone in the U.S. and Europe as well as the introduction of generics in the ProAir market,” Chief Executive Kare Schultz said. He sees a return to growth in 2020.

Teva shares were down 7.9 percent to $17.62 in New York.

For 2019 Teva forecast adjusted earnings per share of $2.20-$2.50 and revenue of $17.0-$17.4 billion. Analysts were forecasting EPS of $2.81 on revenue of $17.9 billion.

Sales of Ajovy, which won approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in September, were $3 million in 2018 but are expected to grow to $150 million this year.

Last month, CVS Health Corp, a top U.S. manager of pharmacy benefits, added Ajovy and a competing drug from Eli Lilly to its list of covered drugs, although it has been excluded from preferred coverage by two other large payers.

Teva said payer access was fluid and some decisions will likely be changed later this year.

Teva’s drug has access to nearly two-thirds of payers and Schultz said he was content with this level.

Another long-anticipated product has been Teva’s generic version of Mylan NV’s EpiPen, which despite approval in August has been in short supply.

“In a product like this you should over a couple of years shoot for ending up somewhere close to 50 percent” of the market, the Danish-born CEO said.

Teva is also banking on other biologic drugs - which are more expensive than chemical-based drugs to develop - to boost revenues in future and has high hopes for a non-addictive pain treatment it is developing with Regeneron.

It expects to maintain research and development spending at around 6 percent of revenue.

Teva earned 53 cents per share excluding one-time items in the fourth quarter of 2018, down from 93 cents a year earlier. Revenue fell 16 percent to $4.6 billion.

Analysts had forecast Teva would earn 54 cents a share ex-items on revenue of $4.5 billion, according to I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv.

North American sales of Copaxone tumbled 44 percent in the quarter to $356 million while generic product sales in North America fell 10 percent.

Global sales of Copaxone are forecast to tumble to $1.5 billion this year from $2.4 billion in 2018.

ProAir sales reached $397 million in 2018 but Teva sees significant erosion in 2019 due to generic competition.

Reporting by Tova Cohen, Steven Scheer and Michael Erman; Editing by Jan Harvey

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