Actelion on Thursday upgraded its full-year profit forecast after reporting that revenue in the third quarter jumped 18 percent year-over-year to 606 million Swiss francs ($613 million), driven by the continued strong launch of Opsumit. Sales of the pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) treatment surged 49 percent to 218 million francs ($220 million).
Additionally, the company noted that quarterly sales of the PAH therapy Tracleer fell by 16 percent to 244 million francs ($246 million). Although the drug lost patent protection in the US last November, CEO Jean-Paul Clozel suggested that generics are not expected to be available in the country until next year. Meanwhile, revenue from the PAH treatment Uptravi, which was cleared by the FDA in December 2015 and approved by the European Commission earlier this year, totalled 70 million francs ($71 million).
"At the beginning of the year, we did not know how Uptravi would be accepted by patients and prescribers, or when generics were coming for Tracleer," Clozel explained. The CEO added "now, we know that it won't come this year, and we know the Uptravi launch is doing very well," continuing "now, we can upgrade our guidance."
Consequently, the company indicated that core operating income growth this year is now expected to be in the mid-teen percentage range, at constant exchange rates, up from a prior estimate of a low-teen percentage increase.
Actelion also reported that net income for the first nine months of the year climbed 29 percent to 581 million francs ($585 million). Commenting on the results, Deutsche Bank analyst Richard Parkes remarked "Uptravi patient uptake continues to reinforce our optimism that it could ultimately be a much bigger drug than assumed."
Clozel also noted that Actelion has "made considerable progress advancing our innovative pipeline, highlighted by the recent initiation of the combination study with ponesimod in relapsing multiple sclerosis." The Phase III POINT study is investigating ponesimod in combination with Biogen's Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate), with Actelion noting that the trial is the first to assess the concurrent administration of two oral therapies in MS. “We have the ideal drug, ponesimod, which can be used in combination," Clozel said, adding that although "it’s a very busy market," with one patient out of five having a new relapse every year, there is a need for more effective therapies.
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