Sector News

With Baxalta in hand, Shire's not looking to buy. But sell? Maybe

February 11, 2016
Life sciences

Shire’s been somewhat of an M&A machine as of late, making a string of deals that most recently included its largest-ever, Baxalta. But it’s an old standby that helped the company beat analyst estimates for Q4.

Strong sales of ADHD fighter Vyvanse pushed the company’s top-line haul to $1.62 billion for the quarter and earnings per share to $2.97, beating consensus estimates of $1.70 billion and $2.87, respectively. Prescription growth of 8%–which outpaces the ADHD market rate of 6%, CFO Jeff Poulton told investors on the company’s conference call–helped the med generate $1.72 billion for the year, a 21% leap over 2014.

Shire can attribute some of that growth to a new indication in binge eating disorder, for which Vyvanse is the only approved med. While the company has taken some heat for its fervent marketing push–especially considering the amphetamine drug’s abuse potential–the label expansion helped Vyvanse record a “particularly strong” 2015 performance in the adult market, Poulton noted.

But Vyvanse didn’t get it all done on its own. The Dublin drugmaker’s hereditary angioedema products, Cinryze and Firazyr, also chipped in with year-over-year growth that exceeded 20%. With Cinryze, which prevents acute attacks of swelling in HAE patients, the “addition of more patients on therapy was the primary driver” of growth, Poulton told investors. Firazyr, which treats those attacks, drew more patients as well, but it also benefitted from a price increase that took hold in Q3.

Meanwhile, the Irish pharma is working to integrate Baxalta, the Illinois-based Baxter spinoff it announced it would buy in January, after months of courtship. And on the dealmaking front, that may be it for awhile.

After striking deals for NPS Pharma, Dyax Corp. and Baxalta within a year, Shire’s near-term focus will be on folding in Baxalta and “using free cash flow from the combined operations to pay down debt,” Poulton said. He pegged the end of 2017 as “a good place to start to reconsider different ways to deploy cash,” including making acquisitions.

That doesn’t mean Shire won’t be selling, though. As Shire and Baxalta join hands, “we’ll take a look at all the franchises and make sure they’re all franchises that should stay with us going forward,” CEO Flemming Ornskov told shareholders.

By Carly Helfand

Source: Fierce Pharma

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