Regeneron boosted by Eylea strength
- Sales of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s top medicine Eylea beat market expectations in the third quarter, boosting shares in the biotech by about 4% Wednesday and helping to allay worries that new competition could crimp revenues for the eye drug.
- Regeneron reported Eylea sales in the U.S. jumped 12% year over year, totaling $953 million during the most recent three-month period. German drugmaker Bayer AG commercializes the drug outside the U.S.
- While Eylea made Regeneron's name as a top-flight biotech, attention has now turned to the company's crop of three newer biologics, developed together with Sanofi SA. The company's PCSK9 inhibitor Praluent has struggled so far, but blockbuster expectations for Dupixent have underpinned investor optimism in Regeneron.
For 2017, Regeneron reaffirmed its previous forecast of 10% year-over-year growth for Eylea U.S. sales — a rate that would put the drug at around $3.6 billion to $3.7 billion in annual revenues.
Ten percent growth, however, would be a marked slowdown from the 24% jump in sales Regeneron recorded from 2015 to 2016.
Regeneron is hoping to expand the drug's addressable market, and announced it had completed enrollment into the Phase 3 PANORAMA study for patients with non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy without diabetic macular edema. Data from that trial is expected in 2018.
Still, competition, both on market and inbound, could threaten the franchise.
"Roche had a strong Lucentis quarter based on new launch into [diabetic macular edema], so we weren't sure if that would take share from Eylea or not," wrote Evercore ISI analyst Josh Schimmer in a Nov. 8 note. "But looks like U.S. Eylea performed well, with no major inventory shift."
As always, though, investors are looking to what's next. And there, the story rests with how Regeneron's three newer biologics perform. (Regeneron splits sales with Sanofi on all three.)
Praluent (alirocumab) has so far been a commercial disappointment, given the blockbuster expectations for the cholesterol drug at one point. A favorable court ruling will keep the drug on the market and could help build confidence in the franchise, but the PCSK9 market as a whole hasn't bloomed.
A strengthening launch of Dupixent (dupilumab), then, is a hopeful sign for Regeneron. Sales of the IL-4/13 inhibitor, currently approved for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis, tripled to nearly $90 million in the third quarter compared to the immediately previous period. Higher sales were mainly driven by patient uptake and physician interest.
Regeneron plans to begin direct-to-consumer marketing for the drug, which it believes will help boost physician comfort with the drug and expand use into more moderately affected patients.
Sales of Kevzara (sarilumab), a Il-6 blocker aimed at rheumatoid arthritis, totaled $3 million in the third quarter.
Follow Ned Pagliarulo on Twitter