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UCB boosted by core medicines growth

Firm’s new chief executive 'excited' by his company’s next batch of medicines

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UCB posted a strong set of full year financial results today and is looking to continue this strong run in the future with a host of new products.

Sales reached a total of €3.34bn last year, a jump of 8% at constant exchange rates on the year before period. 

Revenue was boosted by its core product range, with Crohn's disease and psoriatic arthritis treatment Cimzia (certolizumab pegol); epilepsy medicine Vimpat (lacosamide) and Parkinson's disease and restless leg syndrome drug Neupro (rotigotine) having combined net sales of €1.46bn, a growth of 24% on 2013. 

Specifically Cimzia, one of three major new drugs launched in recent years, rose 34% to €797m euros, around €6m above the average market expectation - the star product for the firm. 

Sales of Vimpat increased by 15% to €471m, while Neupro revenue rose 10% to €200m, although these two grew less than analysts had predicted.

The strong growth rates of these three drugs were however dampened by its older epilepsy drug Keppra (levetiracetam), which has succumbed to generic competition, with sales falling by 7% to €665m. 

UCB's chief executive Jean-Christophe Tellier, who took over from the long-standing Roch Doliveux in January, said he was “very excited about [UCB's] early pipeline”, which includes medicines romosozumab for osteoporosis, lupus treatment epratuzumab, and brivaracetam for epilepsy. 

Under Doliveux' decade of leadership the pharma firm, the biggest in Belgium but also with a sizeable presence in the UK, focussed more heavily on patented medicines and moved away from developing chemicals and other materials as Merck KGaA and Bayer have done. 

The firm had been poised to sell its Kremers Urban generics business in order to focus almost exclusively on patented medicines, but the $1.5bn sale fell through in December after the buyers Advent and Avista Capita pulled out of the deal. 

The move had been intended to help fund future R&D projects, but Tellier said the firm still had what it needed to bring new products to market.

The Belgian pharma firm remains optimistic about its overall finances, despite the lack of a sale for Kremers, and expects its 2015 income to continue to rise, based on continued growth of its three newer drugs, and estimated sales this year will reach €3.55 - €3.65bn.

Article by
Ben Adams

27th February 2015

From: Sales

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