- Shares of Forest Laboratories Inc. surged more than 15
percent on Friday a day after a U.S. court upheld a key
patent for its blockbuster anti-depressant Lexapro.
Analysts said Forest's victory over generic drug maker
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., wiped away a major
cloud hanging over the stock.
The trial had threatened Forest's grip on Lexapro, which
amounted to 63 percent of the New York-based company's
nearly $3 billion in sales in its last fiscal year. Forest
said the patent rights on Lexapro expire in March 2012.
"We see this as a resounding win for Forest and believe
the stock should finally be able to trade more on the
fundamentals of the business," Natexis Bleichroeder
analyst Corey Davis said in a research note. Shares rose
$5.84 to $44.24 in early trading on the New York Stock
Exchange. Before Friday, they had fallen 5.6 percent this
year, compared to a 0.2 percent rise for the American
Stock Exchange Pharmaceutical index. Merrill Lynch analyst
Gregg Gilbert said he would now closely watch prescription
trends for Lexapro. Low-cost generic versions of Pfizer
Inc.'s Zoloft anti-depressant are expected to launch later
this month, and could erode Lexapro's market share.
Gilbert also pointed to Forest's crop of experimental
medicines that are nearing the market, including nebivolol
for hypertension and Orapem for bacterial infections.
"In our view, investors have ignored the progress that
Forest has made over the last year or so in improving its
later-stage pipeline," Gilbert wrote in a research note.