Regeneron Inc’s blockbuster eye drug, Eylea, showed no signs of a slowdown as the drugmaker raised the full-year sales forecast for its flagship product above at least four analysts’ expectation.
The company’s shares rose to a record of $605.93 in early trading on Tuesday.
U.S. sales of Eylea surged 58 percent to $655 million in the second quarter, helping the company post a better-than-expected profit and encouraging it to raise 2015 sales growth forecast.
Eylea was initially approved in late 2011 to treat wet age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly. The drug has since been approved for macular edema, a build-up of fluid in the back of the eye, and a related sight-robbing condition called diabetic macular edema.
The key indication where Regeneron expects growth in Eylea sales is diabetic macular edema, Chief Executive Leonard Schleifer said on a call with analysts.
RBC Capital Markets analyst Adnan Butt expects Eylea sales to grow on the back of data showing that it was better than Roche AG’s Avastin and Lucentis.
Regeneron now expects Eylea sales to grow 45-50 percent in 2015, up from 30-35 percent it had estimated earlier.
CHOLESTEROL DRUG MAKES QUIET ENTRY
The company did not provide a forecast for its new cholesterol drug, Praluent, developed in partnership with French drugmaker Sanofi SA.
Analysts expect Praluent, approved on July 24, to be the next focus for investors. Guggenheim Securities analyst Tony Butler expects Regeneron to provide an update on Praluent at the end of the third quarter.
Leerink Partners analysts expect the drug to hit peak annual sales of more than $5 billion.
On Tuesday, Regeneron warned that Praluent sales may rise only gradually and “for next several months, performance cannot be judged based upon reported sales.”
The company blamed a possible delay in decisions by insurance companies on the drug’s coverage as well as Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
A part of its target population could stay on successful statin treatments, the company said.
Praluent’s wholesale price is $1,120 for 28 days, much higher than the $50 that statins and their generics cost for a month.
Express Scripts Holding Corp, the largest U.S. pharmacy benefit manager, said last week that Praluent’s high price would raise healthcare costs, but it added the drug to its 2016 formulary.
(Reporting by Rosmi Shaji and Vidya L Nathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey and Don Sebastian)