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Court overturns patents on Teva's MS drug Copaxone

NEW YORK (AP) -- Two drug companies said Friday that they hope to start selling a generic version of the multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone in May after a federal appeals court overturned several patents supporting the drug.

Mylan Inc. and Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. could start selling their versions of the drug on May 25, after the remaining patents on the drug expire. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., which makes Copaxone, said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned a total of five patents on the drug and said it was disappointing with the decision. Teva plans to appeal the ruling.

The generics have not yet received Food and Drug Administration approval.

The Israeli drugmaker said sales of Copaxone grew 17 percent to $1.06 billion in the first quarter. U.S. sales rose 31 percent to $806 million over that period. Teva is the world's biggest maker of generic drugs, and it reported $4.9 billion in revenue in the first quarter.

Teva sued Mylan and Momenta, along with its partner Sandoz, for infringing on the patents supporting the drug. A U.S. District Court ruled in Teva's favor and upheld the patents in June 2012.

Shares of Mylan rose 84 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $33.43 Friday and reached an all-time high of $33.50 during the day. Momenta shares jumped $1.82, or 11.8 percent, to $17.34.

Barclays analyst Douglas Tsao said Copaxone already appears to be losing market share to a newer drug, Biogen Idec Inc.'s Tecfidera, and the ruling allows the generics to reach the market 18 months earlier than Teva had hoped. However, he said the court's decision doesn't change the overall picture for Teva.

"Investors have generally viewed Copaxone as a declining asset and, worst case, this merely speeds up that decline," he wrote. Tsao said Teva's business model is in transition and it's not clear what path the company will take. He rates the shares "equal weight."

Teva shares declined 53 cents to $40.73.