Alexion turns focus to rebuilding pipeline amid restructuring
- Despite a number of challenges over the last year, Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. reported 15% growth in revenues year over year to earn $3.55 billion for 2017.
- The big biotech projects 2018 sales of $3.85 to $3.95 billion, with $3.325 to $3.4 billion coming from sales of its blockbuster rare disease drug Soliris.
- Analysts on the Thursday morning call were "confused" by the guidance, calling it "super conservative" and lighter on revenues than they had expected. Despite the lack of clarity, shares of the company's stock were relatively flat in early morning trading, with shares lingering around $117 apiece.
After announcing plans last year to restructure the company in hopes of turnaround, Alexion is continuing to build on that strategy in 2018.
In 2017, the company replaced more than half a dozen members of the management team including the CEO, as well as several members of its board of directors.
Alexion also shuttered development of one of its main pipeline candidates and ended several partnerships with other biotechs.
With all that in the rearview, Alexion is concentrating on launching Soliris — which faces loss of exclusivity in 2021 — for the new indication of generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG). The company noted during the Feb. 8 call with analysts it is pleased with the label granted by the FDA in October and said it is already serving patients in the U.S., Germany and Japan.
Remarking it "has made very good progress with payers," Alexion claims to now have 60% of potential patients covered.
Chief Commercial Officer Brian Goff told analysts Alexion expects this launch to exceed previous launches of Soliris in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS).
The big biotech also expects to have data readouts for several other Soliris studies and its follow-on compound in PNH, ALXN1210, and based on those results could seek regulatory approval in the second half of 2018.
To complement the leadership changes and forward momentum in clinical studies, the company said it will be looking to do more deals and business development.
CEO Ludwig Hantson said the company will be "disciplined" around business development in order to "achieve a rare disease pipeline that is diversified in terms of development stage and risk."
"With respect to business development, we hired a leader of the team and have begun to build out the team," added Goff. "We're beginning to really get a flow and internal look at potential transactions. With all that said, it's extremely hard to predict. We definitely want to rebuild the pipeline, and we will be disciplined, but it's hard to predict when that will result in a program coming into the pipeline."
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