Teva's Azilect Drug Slows Parkinson's Disease

16 Jun 2008 • by Natalie Aster

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world's biggest maker of generic drugs, said its Azilect medicine helped slow the progression of Parkinson's disease in the final phase of clinical tests, reported The Bloomberg.

Azilect, which Teva developed with Danish drugmaker H. Lundbeck A/S, may become the first medicine approved to modify the course of Parkinson's disease, the Petah Tikva, Israel-based company said in a statement today.

Teva is working to develop its own products as generic drugs face price competition in the U.S. and Europe. Noa Weisberg, an analyst at Israel Brokerage & Investments in Tel Aviv today raised her peak sales forecast for Azilect to $1 billion, compared with earlier analyst estimates $200 million to $300 million.

``It's going to be a blockbuster, easily,'' she said in a telephone interview. ``This is very good news, not just for investors, but also for patients.''

Teva shot up as much as 9 shekels, or 6.2 percent, to 153.70 shekels, the steepest increase in three years. The stock was trading at 153.30 shekels at 12:06 p.m. in Tel Aviv.

Lundbeck, which maintains marketing rights for Azilect in Europe, rose 4.5 kroner, or 3.9 percent, to 120 kroner in Copenhagen trading, after gaining the most in a month. The test's results will boost Azilect's European sales in the next few years, the Copenhagen-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. This year's financial performance won't be affected, Lundbeck said.

Azilect contributed $120 million to Teva's 2007 revenue, or 1.3 percent of the total, according to the Israeli company's latest annual report. It is Teva's second proprietary medicine, after Copaxone for multiple sclerosis.

Teva can use the test, known as the Adagio study, to convince regulators in Europe and at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that Azilect can be used to slow the progression of Parkinson's in 1 milligram doses, Weisberg said. The degenerative disease, for which there is no cure, destroys nerve cells in the brain that control movement.

``This medicine is already marketed, it already has FDA approval, it already has a sales force,'' she said.

The 18-month study examined Azilect's disease-modifying effects on 1,176 patients in the early stages of Parkinson's, Teva said. Some patients received doses of the medication in 1 milligram or 2 milligrams, while others received placebo for 36 weeks followed by Azilect.

Teva plans to release further details over the next few weeks. European patents on the medicine start expiring in 2011 and a year later in the U.S.