Teva in Fracas Over Copaxone in Russia

YERUSHALAYIM -

Teva Pharmaceutical’s troubles this week did not end at the Israeli border.

While the uproar over hundreds of possible layoffs in Israel continued, Russian authorities voiced anger over what they said was Teva’s decision to unilaterally suspend production of Copaxone for the Russian market, Globes reported on Wednesday.

Teva flatly denied that it had stopped shipments of its multiple sclerosis drug, a flagship product for the company, and reaffirmed its commitment to its Russian patients.

But Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) issued a stern warning to Teva that such behavior could expose Teva to fines and legal proceedings.

There is no substitute for it, and the government noted that “the decision of its producer to refuse supplying the medicine makes it impossible for the state to provide medicines to the patients with multiple sclerosis,” said FAS Deputy Head Andrey Kashevarov.

The FAS further warned that the company’s future operations in Russia could be damaged if it does not resume supply of the drug. No explanation was given for the alleged cutoff.

Copaxone sales in Russia reportedly total $500 million a year, and in 2012 its revenue rose 14% (21% in ruble terms) over 2011.

Meanwhile, back in Israel, after several hours of talks between Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini and Teva CEO Jeremy Levin, an understanding, of sorts, was reached late Tuesday.

While Teva did not promise to cancel its layoff plans, Levin said that “there will be no layoffs without the Histadrut’s agreement.”

Levin stressed that staff reductions will still be necessary, but that no decision has yet been made on how many people will be dismissed or when.

“These numbers did not come from us,” he said, referring to media reports that the company would lay off 800 employees. “We have not decided on the numbers. We do not know what they will be. There’s a lot of work to be done.”