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7 Facts About Teva, the Company Behind Generic Viagra

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With literally billions of generic medications of every shape, size, and color, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is the world’s leader in generics manufacturing and distribution.

In the closing days of 2017, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. made headlines when launched America’s first generic version of Viagra, the little blue pill that revolutionized the treatment of erectile dysfunction. At approximately the same time, Pfizer itself  released a generic for sale in the United States.

However, it hardly marked the first time that Teva has been in the spotlight. The big multinational company is a major player in the generics market and also manufactures and distributes a number of specialty drugs and medical devices. Here are a few facts about Teva that you might not know:

1. Teva Is Headquartered in Israel

Although it operates worldwide, Teva maintains its headquarters in Jerusalem, Israel. It also has a string of manufacturing facilities scattered across four continents — Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. The company’s U.S. headquarters is located in North Wales, Pennsylvania, a northern suburb of Philadelphia.

2. How Teva Got Its Start

Teva has its roots in a small wholesale drug business that was established in Jerusalem in 1901 by Chaim Salomon, Moshe Levin, and Yitschak Elstein. By the mid-1930s, the pharmaceuticals business in the region had become robust enough to sustain locally-based manufacturing plants. During this period, Salomon, Levin, and Elstein set up a manufacturing operation they dubbed Assia. Other such operations founded at roughly the same time included Zori in Tel Aviv and Teva in Jerusalem. In 1964 Assia and Zori banded together and acquired a controlling interest in Teva. Twelve years later, in 1976, all three companies formally merged into Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. To help realize its goal of becoming a major player in the international pharmaceuticals business, Teva in 1980 acquired Ikapharm, which was at the time Israel’s second-largest drug manufacturer.

3. Teva Is the World’s Number 1 Generics Manufacturer

Teva manufactures and distributes hundreds of generic medications worldwide. In the United States alone, it markets more than 400 generic drugs, which are available in more than 1,300 dosage strengths and packaging sizes. These include oral medications, injectables, and inhaled products. A Teva product accounts for one of every seven prescriptions filled in the United States and for one in every six generic prescriptions.

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Shown above is Teva headquarters in Japan, just one of the scores of countries where the company does business.

4. Teva’s Biggest Market Is the United States

Although Teva sells its generics and specialty medicines around the world, the United States accounts for the largest single share of its revenues. The company reported that in the third quarter of 2016, ended September 30, 2016, 52 percent of Teva’s revenues were generated from U.S. sales, compared with 25 percent from Europe and 23 percent from the rest of the world.

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5. Generics Account for More Than Half of Teva’s Revenues

Based on data from the third quarter of 2016, the most recent earnings figures available as this is being written, generics accounted for 52 percent of Teva’s overall revenues, compared with 37 percent from specialty products, and 11 percent from other sources. Included in that final category are sales of over-the-counter products in collaboration with Procter & Gamble, sales of medical devices, and distribution services primarily in Israel and Hungary. Teva’s net revenues for all of 2015 totaled nearly $19.7 billion, down slightly from $20.3 billion in 2014. Teva said the decline was caused primarily by foreign exchange fluctuations. Net income for all of 2015 was nearly $4.7 billion, up from $4.4 billion in 2014.

6. Specialty Products Most Profitable for Teva

Breaking down Teva’s gross profit by source, based on third quarter 2016 data, specialty products accounted for 52 percent of profits, followed by generics with 41 percent of profits, and other sources, which accounted for 7 percent.

7. How Teva Won the Right to Market Generic Viagra

Anxious to break into the lucrative market for erectile dysfunction drugs, Teva in 2010 announced its intention to market a generic version of Pfizer’s popular Viagra, the first oral ED drug to hit the market. In response, Pfizer instituted legal proceedings to block Teva from violating its patent on Viagra. The resulting litigation dragged out over the next few years and was finally resolved in late 2013 when Pfizer agreed to a licensing arrangement that would allow Teva to begin selling a generic formulation of Viagra in December 2017.

That court-supervised agreement also recognized that Pfizer’s patent on Viagra was valid until April 2020. Under this agreement, Teva will be obligated to pay Pfizer a royalty for the privilege of marketing a Viagra generic until Pfizer’s patent on the drug has expired in 2020. In several countries where Pfizer’s patent on Viagra has already expired, Teva is already selling its generic formulation of sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in the little blue pill.

Until December 2017, the only Viagra legally available in the United States was the original product marketed and distributed by Pfizer. Now that 2018 is here, Americans have not one, but two choices in generic Viagra. There’s Teva’s version, and there is also another authorized generic, made by Pfizer itself and referred to as “the little white pill” rather than “the little blue pill.” These options allow most consumers to cut the cost of treating erectile dysfunction with sildenafil citrate (the active ingredient in Viagra) by about half. When Pfizer’s patent fully expires in the year 2020, you can expect more generics to enter the market, reducing drug costs even further.

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About Don Amerman

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Don Amerman has spent more than three decades in the business of writing and editing. During the last 15 years, his focus has been on freelance writing. For almost all of his writing, He has done all of his own research, both online and off, including telephone and face-to-face interviews where possible. Don Amerman on Google+