Business in Brief: Teva Shares Drop After Rival Reports Progress on Alternative Multiple Sclerosis Drug

Shares of Teva Pharmaceuticals fall after a company develops a competitor to the Copaxone multiple sclerosis drug ■ IceCure Medical received approval to use extreme cold to destroy tumors ■ Tel Aviv shares ended lower for a third day

A building belonging to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the world's biggest generic drugmaker and Israel's largest company, is seen in Jerusalem.
REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Teva shares drop after rival reports progress of Copaxone alternative

Shares of Teva Pharmaceuticals fell sharply Thursday after a company developing a competitor to the Israeli drugmaker’s Copaxone multiple sclerosis drug presented positive trial data. TG Therapeutics said a day earlier that the final Phase 2 data for its ublituximab (TG-1101) had been accepted for an oral presentation at the annual congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis next month. “The data continue to demonstrate that ublituximab is an active treatment for patients with MS,” said CEO Michael Weiss. TG said the annualized relapse rate for patients in the study was 0.07% and that ublituximab completely eliminated all lesions at week 24, better metrics than Copaxone achieves. Sales of Copaxone have plunged this year in the face of generic competition, but still contributed $626 million to the company’s $4.7 billion in sales in the second quarter. Teva shares finished down 4.4% at 79.73 shekels ($22.09). (Yoram Gabison)

IceCure gets Australian approval for tumor-removal device

IceCure Medical, whose minimally invasive therapies use extreme cold to destroy tumors, said Thursday that its ProSense system was being launched in the Australia market. The company said ProSense had been cleared for marketing by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration and that Surgeons Choice Australia Limited, a marketer of surgical equipment, had signed a memorandum of understanding to buy at least $190,000 of the devices. The first sales are expected in the final quarter of this year and the rest in 2019. The two will also sign a long-term distribution agreement, IceCure said. IceCure systems enable doctors to remove tumors in their offices rather than through hospital surgery. “We believe that the TGA approval will provide a tailwind for other commercial activities we are moving forward on in additional territories,” said IceCure CEO Eyal Shamir, adding he expected to sign additional distribution agreements. IceCure shares finished up 4.8% at 85 agorot (24 cents). (Assa Sasson

BioLight reports progress in China market 

BioLight shares rallied Thursday after  the company, which develops and commercializes ophthalmic products, that its IOptima unit had taken two key steps in the Chinese market. In the first, IOptima sold its first IOPtiMate system, a surgical system that enables a nonpenetrating, CO2 laser-assisted glaucoma procedure, to a customer in China, which it termed a “leading eye care hospital” without naming it. In the second, Chengdu Kanghong Pharmaceuticals had implemented the second phase of a 2017 agreement under which it is buying IOptima from BioLight and other shareholders. Chengdu is IOPtiMate’s distributor in China. Under the agreement, Chengdu Kanghong is due to buy the rest of IOptima in two stages in 2019 and 2020. “The deal is an example of how our strategy is being implemented —– to commercialize unique medical solutions in the ophthalmology segment in major target markets,” said BioLight CEO Suzana Nahum-Zilberberg. BioLight closed 6.8% up at 15.23 shekels ($4.22). (Assa Sasson)

Tel Aviv shares finish lower for third straight session

Tel Aviv shares ended lower for a third day running Thursday before breaking for another long holiday weekend. The TA-35 and TA-125 indexes each fell close to 0.6% to 1,642.77 and 1,482.82 points, respectively, on heavy trading of 1.85 billion shekels ($510 million). Among the biggest losers, Opko Health fell sharply for a third session, sliding 6.4% to 13.28 and wiping out its rally from the week before. Elbit Systems dropped 3.4% to 461.20 and Israel Discount Bank lost 1.9% to 12.13. Camtek led TA-125 gainers, climbing 4.85% to 32.23. It was the stock’s second day of big gains after the maker of semiconductor production equipment forecast a 30% revenue rise in 2018. In foreign currency trading, the dollar reversed a string of losses to strengthen nearly 0.6% against the shekel to 3.594 after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised the fed funds rate 25 basis points to a range of 2% to 2.25%. (Assa Sasson)