Viropharma acquisition boosts Shire in 2014

Shire’s acquisition of Viropharma last year helped its sales and earnings rocket in 2014, although chief executive Flemming Ornskov said growth in 2015 will be slower.

Full-year sales grew 23 per cent to $5.8 billion while cost-cutting efforts – including a restructuring of its corporate activities around Zug in Switzerland and Lexington in the US – helped operating earnings climb 39 per cent to $2.6 billion.

The main driver for the improved earnings was, however, the Dublin-based drugmaker’s $1.6,billion windfall from the aborted takeover by AbbVie last year, which it believes will not be taxable under Irish corporate tax laws, although this has not yet been confirmed.

Cinyrze (complement C1 esterase inhibitor) for the prophylactic treatment of hereditary angioedema (HAE) – which was acquired along with ViroPharma just over a year ago, fulfilled its expectations with a 30 per cent increase in sales to top $500 million in the full year.

Ornskov said the accelerating performance of Cinryze “demonstrates our ability to create value from its M&A activities.” Meanwhile Shire’s in-house HAE product Firazyr (icatibant) grew 55 per cent to $129 million, which the company said was helped by adding Cinryze to its portfolio.

Shire’s rare disease division – which in 2015 will be buoyed by its $5.2 billion acquisition of NPS Pharma – was its fastest-growing unit with Replagal (agalsidase alfa) for Fabry disease climbing 7 per cent to $500 million in 2014 and Elaprase for Hunter syndrome up 9 per cent to $592 million.

The NPS deal is due to close shortly and will add two new rare disease products – Gattex/Revestive (teduglutide) for short bowel syndrome and Natpara/Natpar (recombinant human parathyroid hormone) for hypoparathyroidism – to Shire’s portfolio.

Ornskov said Shire expects to deliver further growth in 2015 despite “significant foreign currency headwinds”, the loss of exclusivity for its attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug Intuniv (guanfacine) and the inclusion of Cinryze in its 2014 figures.

Analysts at Edison said the company’s performance was remarkable, given the distraction of AbbVie’s aborted takeover, and “underline the progress being made and strengths of the business”, as well as “why it remains such an attractive asset for potential suitors.”

Looking at a bid for Salix?

Meanwhile, aside from being a takeover target, Shire’s own acquisitive streak may be set to continue, according to rumours circulating this week. Along with Canada’s Valeant, the company has also been linked with a bid for US gastroenterology specialist Salix Pharmaceuticals, which has been valued at more than $9 billion.

The company is also excited about the prospects for its new approval for ADHD therapy Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) in binge-eating disorder, which the company said could add $300 million to its target turnover of $10 billion in 2020.

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Shire adds rare disease drugs with $5.2 bn NPS merger

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