Teva plant in Jerusalem
Teva plant in Jerusalem

Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the world’s largest maker of generic drugs, has opened a new, $100 million distribution center just outside the town of Shoham, near Ben Gurion International Airport.

Present at last week’s dedication ceremony were President Shimon Peres and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who essentially serves as Health Minister. “Our investments in building and expanding plants throughout Israel add some 700 new jobs each year to Israel’s economy,” Chief Executive Officer Shlomo Yannai said at the ceremony.

“This center takes into account how Teva will grow over the next 10 years - and even beyond that,” he added.

The center is built over an area of 77,000 square meters (19 acres), making it the largest warehouse in Israel.  New unloading and loading methods are to be used there, designed to cut truck-loading time from an hour to just ten minutes.

Teva, which earned profits of $3.3 billion on sales of $16.1 billion last year, has featured prominently of late in the news in the United States. Last week, it appealed a District Court court decision awarding a Nevada man $365 million in damages from Teva. He contracted hepatitis C as a result of a routine colonoscopy and sued Teva for product liability – but Teva says the nurse who administered the test wrongfully re-used a syringe.

“The label for [our] product clearly states that it is for single-patient use only and that aseptic procedures should be used at all times,” Teva said. “Further, the company believes that the jury should have been allowed to hear all of the evidence in this case [which] clearly showed that if the plaintiff contracted hepatitis as alleged, it was because a properly labeled product was blatantly misused at the clinic in question. Teva believes that there are numerous grounds for appeal, and plans to contest the verdict vigorously.” Together with the $140 million awarded the plaintiff from the distributor, the award is the largest in Nevada history.

On the other hand, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided last week that an oral treatment for multiple sclerosis developed by Merck KGaA cannot yet be approved for use. The drug in question is a direct competitor to Teva’s flagship product, Copaxone. Last year, the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) similarly rejected Merck’s Cladridine.