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Teva says MS drug met goals in clinical trial

NEW YORK (AP) -- Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said Thursday that a new version of its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone met its goals in a late-stage clinical trial.

Copaxone is the best-selling multiple sclerosis treatment in the world, and Teva is conducting clinical trials of a more concentrated, long-acting version of the drug. The Israeli company said patients who took the newer version of glatiramer acetate were about 34 percent less likely to have a relapse of their symptoms over the course of a year than patients who took a placebo.

Copaxone is injected once a day, and the experimental version needs to be taken only three times a week. Teva said the late-stage trial involved around 1,400 patients. It is Teva's top-selling branded product, and the company expects around $3.8 billion in revenue from the drug this year. However Copaxone is facing new competition.

Biogen Idec Inc. recently asked the Food and Drug Administration to approve an oral MS drug called BG-12. BG-12 has been more effective than Copaxone in clinical trials.

Barclays Capital Markets analyst Douglas Tsao said Teva's study results were good and the new drug may be more convenient than Copaxone, and many patients who switch will prefer an oral drug.

Shares of Teva lost 32 cents to close at $38.22, while Biogen Idec shares gained $4.44, or 3.3 percent, to $138.66. Earlier the stock reached an all-time high of $139.81.

Teva made the announcement before the markets opened Thursday.