Shire is bracing itself for a significant boost in sales after European regulators authorised the use of the company’s experimental drug to treat an extremely rare disease.
In a decision set to be ratified by the European Commission in the coming weeks, the European Medicines Agency has approved the Irish-domiciled pharmaceutical group’s drug vela-glucerase alfa, known by the brand name Vpriv, an enzyme replacement therapy for Gaucher’s disease.
Martin Wales, pharmaceuticals analyst at UBS in London, said he was forecasting additional sales of $150m (£99m) from Vpriv over the next two years for Shire, while the company’s overall revenue from its portfolio of orphan drugs will rise to $1bn, or nearly a quarter of its total sales.
Companies have recovered their research costs by charging very high prices: on average, Cerezyme sells at $200,000 to $300,000 a patient a year.
Shire said it would price Vpriv at about 15 per cent lower than this.
That has spurred new companies into the niche, with even Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker, expressing interest.