Why Momenta Pharmaceuticals Shares Popped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of biotechnology company Momenta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MNTA  ) surged 12% today after confirming that Teva Pharmaceutical's (NYSE: TEVA  ) blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone will lose patent protection in 2014 rather than 2015, due to a ruling from a U.S. appeals court.

So what: Teva has been trying to protect its patents from two partnerships developing a generic version of Copaxone -- Novartis/Momenta and Mylan/Natco Pharma -- but today's ruling allows new entrants into the field a year earlier than expected. That might not sound like a big deal, but given that Copaxone generates about $4 billion in annual revenue for Teva, and that a generic could quickly steal a big chunk of that, investors are naturally excited about the fact that smallish Momenta could be the one to do it.

Now what: Don't expect the momentum to let up anytime soon. "Given the decision, we and Sandoz will continue to work with FDA to advance review of the ANDA for generic Copaxone in order for this product to be approved and available to patients as soon as possible," said Momenta President and CEO Craig Wheeler. So while the stock might be a bit too hot and speculative for many Fools, less risk-averse investors might want to follow Momenta's developments more closely.    

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