After a rather stellar 2007, it seemed as though generic-drug maker Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: TEVA) was going to have a tough act to follow this year. So far, though, the year looks anything but generic.

Sales were up 24% year over year, thanks in part to the 35% increases in sales of its multiple sclerosis drug, Copaxone. Elan's (NYSE: ELN) and Biogen Idec's (Nasdaq: BIIB) competing drug, Tysabri, has been signing up patients left and right, but that didn't appear to be cutting into Copaxone's sales too much. At least for the moment. Some of Copaxone's increase came from unusually high purchases outside the U.S. -- some 64% growth in European sales. Management said they don't think red-hot growth will continue going forward. That sales growth is impressive nonetheless.

The jump in sales also benefited from recent launches of generic versions of Novartis' (NYSE: NVS) Lotrel, used to treat high blood pressure, and Merck's (NYSE: MRK) Fosamax, used against osteoporosis. Teva is also still benefiting from its risky launch of a copycat to Wyeth's (NYSE: WYE) Protonix, a treatment for acid reflux.

Not counting a charge associated with purchasing CoGenesys, adjusted earnings per share were $0.64, a 52% year-over-year increase. Even so, part of that bottom-line growth was helped by increased gross margins -- Copaxone, other branded drugs, and generics still in their exclusivity period generally fetch a higher gross margin.

This was certainly a good start to the year. Even better, Teva looks like it's just getting started. It'll be gaining a big presence in Spain when it acquires Bentley Pharmaceuticals later this quarter or early next quarter. Its pipeline is also strong, with 155 marketing applications waiting for FDA approval. This includes 49 that could come with the coveted first-to-file 180 days of exclusivity. It even has some big product launches in the future, including a generic version of Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ) Risperdal tablets for schizophrenia treatment. A judge just awarded Teva a 180-day exclusive selling period, though the FDA could appeal.

While these launches will help Teva in the near term, reaching its long-term goal of $20 billion in revenues by 2012 with a 20% net margin is probably going to require a major acquisition or two. That should be all right, as long as the company doesn't overpay.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Biogen is a pick of the Stock Advisor newsletter. J&J is a selection of the Income Investor newsletter. The Fool has a disclosure policy.