Teva's oral MS drug data disappoints the analysts

With a multibillion-dollar market at stake, Teva shares were dented yesterday afternoon after word spread that its oral MS drug laquinimod cut relapses at a lower rate than standard injectable therapies on the market.

Compared to a placebo, the drug cut the rate of relapses by 23 percent. But analysts had been expecting somewhat better results, which debut as Novartis is marketing its own new MS pill, Gilenya, and Biogen Idec has reported a successful conclusion for the Phase III study of its experimental MS drug. Investigators also noted that the drug group demonstrated an average drop in the progression of disability by 36 percent.

"We think the market was expecting annual relapse rate reductions in the neighborhood of 25 to 35 percent," noted Corey Davis, an analyst for Jefferies & Co. Davis's note to investors on the data broke a blanket embargo at a meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, according to Bloomberg

"The market expected closer to 25 percent or a bit above," Jonathan Kreizman, an analyst at Clal Finance, told Reuters.

Analysts at the Credit Suisse Group AG, meanwhile, said that they were looking for a 25 percent to 30 percent drop in the rate of relapses, giving them a match to injectable drugs. Teva is scrambling to get an oral successor to Copaxone on the market. That drug earns $3.3 billion a year.

- read the story from Reuters
- here's the report from Bloomberg