Investment house Merrill Lynch reiterated a Buy rating for drug giant Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:TEVA), setting a price target of $60, only 6% above the market.
Merrill Lynch is disappointed with the interim results Teva reported for Coral, the oral form of Copaxone, which is used for treating relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. Copaxone is administered via injections.
The tests could not prove a statistically significant treatment effect in patients who took Coral over a year.
Given that the final trial results for Coral are not expected to differ, Merrill Lynch recommends that investors deduct oral Copaxone as a factor.
Though disappointed with the Coral results, Merrill Lynch has not changed its estimates for Teva's next two years, partly because Teva is expected to receive approval to sell regular Copaxone in Europe.
Teva President and CEO Eli Hurvitz also said he is disappointed with the oral Copaxone trials, but he found encouragement in the positive trends the trials indicated, he said.
Hurvitz said that if the results of the final trials are also statistically inconclusive, the development of oral Copaxone will take longer than expected. Teva had thought oral Copaxone would reach the market by 2003.