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Richter shares rise as US approves OTC contraceptive

Shares of Richter Gedeon Nyrt, eastern Europe's biggest drugmaker by stock market value, rose after the „morning after” contraceptive pill the Hungarian company makes was cleared for sale without a prescription. The stock added 1.7% to close at Ft 46,980 in Budapest, the ninth straight increase. The shares rallied when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. could begin selling the product, called Plan B, to women over the age of 18 without a prescription. Richter, which markets Plan B as Levonelle-2 in the European Union and as Rigesoft in Hungary, makes the contraceptive pill for Barr as a finished product. „The impact on Richter should be something like $5 million to $10 million” in new sales, said Péter Tordai, an analyst at the Budapest unit of KBC Groep NV. „It could double Richter's sales of this drug,” he said. Richter spokeswoman Zsuzsa Beke said it was too early to forecast the effect on the Budapest-based drugmaker's sales. Under the FDA rules, Plan B can only be sold by a pharmacist, rather than taken off the shelf by a customer, she said. US sales of Plan B contribute „a few million dollars” to Richter's annual revenue, Beke said on Aug. 1, declining to be more specific. Barr's Plan B sales exceed about $30 million a year in the US, Barr spokeswoman Carol Cox said. Sales may double if Plan B is made available over the counter, Barr's CEO Bruce Downey has said. Sales of gynecological drugs made up about 28% of Richter's sales in the H1. The company had sales of Ft 140.9 billion ($643 million) last year, with just under 10% of revenue coming from US exports. (Bloomberg)