Allergan highlights new drug potential
- Allergan has high hopes for a trio of recently launched drugs, as the Irish pharma continues its transition away from generics drugs and cements its focus on branded pharmaceuticals.
- Company CEO Brent Saunders, speaking on Thursday at an investor conference hosted by Wells Fargo in Boston, highlighted Viberzi (eluxadoline), Vraylar (cariprazine) and Kybella (deoxycholic acid) as examples of its focus on launching new products to drive growth.
- Saunders, who earlier this week pledged to limit price increases, appears focused on getting ahead of public criticism of industry practices. At the Wells Fargo conference, Saunders repeatedly emphasized reliance on growing volume and new product launches as principal levers for new growth.
Allergan, fresh off selling its generics business to Teva for $40.5 billion, is in the midst of transforming its brand identity to what Saunders terms "growth pharma," defined by a commitment to double-digit growth.
Viberzi, Vraylar and Kybella — all approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year — figure to be an important part of that commitment, even as Allergan continues to see higher sales from older products like Botox and Restasis.
While combined sales of the three drugs in the second quarter amounted to only $44.2 million, Saunders was optimistic on the prospects for all three.
Viberzi, which was approved for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D) last May, is tracking at around 85% of the post-launch sales growth for Linzess (an older Allergan drug for IBS), Saunders said at the conference.
Linzess sales jumped to nearly $460 million in 2015, its third full year of sales following approval in August 2012. A similar growth trajectory for Viberzi would be a substantial boost to growth.
Allergan may be aided by ongoing turmoil at Valeant, which markets a competing drug called Xifaxan. First approved in 2004, Xifaxan was approved for treatment of IBS-D the same day as Viberzi. But turnover of Valeant's sales force led to disruption in prescription growth this spring, leading the embattled drugmaker to shave $390 million of its forecast for the year.
Vraylar has also had a successful launch for treatment of bipolar I disorder and schizophrenia. Allergan has expanded its sales force for the drug and hopes to add new indications next year, despite a recent trial setback in major depressive disorder.
"[Vraylar] is exceeding expectations and really performing in line with the new atypicals in the class," Saunders said.
The biggest opportunity may be for Kybella, however. "Up until September 1, it was really about market development, training, injectors and building insights into this new class of lower phase aesthetics," Saunders explained about the double chin treatment. Saunders indicated some at Allergan feel the market for Kybella, a drug to reduce submental fat, could be as promising as the market seen by Botox ten years ago.
- Allergan Conference webcast
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