Teva Pharmaceutical Industries posted a 9% increase in net income in the fourth quarter of 2005, shrugging off the pricing pressure and increased competition that have affected other generics companies in 2005.

Teva - the world’s number one generics house since completing its acquisition of US firm Ivax - said net income in the quarter came in at $305 million, on sales up 6% to $1.4 billion. For the full-year, sales rose 9% to $5.3 billion, with net profits up 11% to $1.07 billion, breaking the billion dollar barrier for the first time.

Teva said it rode the underlying erosion in its generics business through a combination of new generic launches - particularly copycat versions of blockbuster versions of Pfizer’s antibiotic Zithromax (azithromycin) and Sanofi-Aventis’ antihistamine Allegra (fexofenadine) in the USA and Merck & Co’s osteoporosis drug Fosamax (alendronate) in Europe - as well as strong growth in its proprietary multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone (glatiramer acetate). Overall, generic revenue was flat over the fourth quarter of 2004.

Copaxone became the leading MS therapy in the USA, said Teva’s CEO, Israel Makov, with sales rising 24% to $323 million in the fourth quarter and 26% to $1.18 billion for 2005 as a whole. Citing IMS Health data on prescribing patterns, the company is claiming 34.3% market share in terms of total prescriptions (TRx) for MS in the USA, and 35.2% of new prescriptions (NRx).

Teva also posted higher sales of active pharmaceutical ingredients, mainly in Europe, which compensated for stagnation in the US API market.

The financial figures are Teva’s last as a stand-alone company. From now on its figures will include the contribution from its merger with Ivax.