Actelion exceeds profit estimates as Opsumit, Uptravi make up for aged Tracleer

Actelion may have a blockbuster on the decline--but it's also got two new launches that are keeping it in the game.

For 2015, the Swiss company reported sales that were in line with analyst expectations and core earnings that beat them. Sales climbed 4% year over year to hit CHF 2.04 billion, while earnings rose to CHF 814 million ($827.24 million), besting predictions of CHF 813 million.

Actelion attributed the performance to recently launched pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) therapy Opsumit, which netted CHF 516 million. The med has been quickly gaining steam across the 35 countries where it boasts a green light--particularly in the U.S., the home of nearly half the 13,600 patients who have so far received the therapy.

That med helped offset the 11% dip from aged PAH product Tracleer, Actelion said, which is fighting off generics and pricing pressure in Europe. As Jefferies analyst Peter Welford said in a note seen by Reuters, a delay in the arrival of some copycat meds also softened the blow.

Actelion CEO Jean-Paul Clozel

And then there's brand-new Uptravi, another PAH contender that Actelion rolled out early this year with a $160,000 price tag. The company has been counting on that med to build a bridge in its PAH portfolio between Opsumit and late-stage treatment Veletri, and on that front, CEO Jean-Paul Clozel says it's already well on its way.

"Peak sales will take many years, but there will be very significant income from Uptravi this year," he told Reuters. "And I can tell you, the launch is doing extremely well."

And with that contribution, Actelion expects to dodge a yearly profit drop in 2016, instead predicting a low single-digit percentage increase in core earnings at constant exchange rates that Welford said was "much better than we feared."

"We have transformed our PAH portfolio and the diversification of our pipeline is well underway," Clozel said in a statement. "As a result, we now have the opportunity to become the first European-born biopharma to make it to the major league."

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