Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries said yesterday that its third-quarter earnings rose 127%, helped by strong sales of generic drugs for depression and elevated cholesterol, as well as its recent acquisition of US company Ivax.

Net income rose to $606 million, or 74 cents a share, up from $267 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier, the company said.

Sales also put in a stellar rise, up 74% to $2.29 billion, with North American turnover at $1.3 billion in the quarter, up 87%, driven by generic versions of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Pravachol (pravastatin) and Merck & Co’s Zocor (simvastatin), both treatments for high cholesterol, as well as clones of antidepressants Zoloft (sertraline) from Pfizer and Wyeth’s Effexor (venlafaxine).

Teva has shown itself to be enormously effective at securing six months’ exclusivity for new generic launches in the USA – with the generic market to itself for all of the aforementioned products – under the country’s ‘first-to-file’ laws.

Israel Makov, Teva’s president and chief executive, said: "This was, quite simply, a superb quarter for Teva.”

European sales were up 36% to $464 million, a solid performance at a time when cost controls in a number of EU countries are hitting the generic industry.

Among its branded products, multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) had another strong quarter with sales up 15% to $354 million, while Teva's recently-launched Parkinson’s disease drug Azilect (rasagiline) made its first contribution since debuting in the USA in July.

Meantime, Teva also announced plans to buy back as much as $600 million of its shares and convertible debentures.