Ironwood bowel drug blessed with incredible potential

The FDA has given its approval to linaclotide, a new drug for irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, which some analysts say could run up to $2 billion in sales a year.

The drug was developed by Ironwood Pharmaceuticals ($IRWD), which partnered with Forest Laboratories ($FRX), but the biotech company held onto the co-promotion rights in the U.S., which put it into position to reap much of the reward. Almirall acquired the rights to Europe while Astellas inked an Asian deal.

Ironwood has said that as many as 11 million Americans have irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, and for many it comes with a lot of pain. While Takeda Pharmaceutical is already in the market with its Amitiza, analysts say the fact that the Ironwood drug may relieve pain will help it quickly outsell its competition.

Jefferies & Co. analyst Corey Davis, tells Bloomberg that because the side effects of Takeda's drug are so severe, linaclotide will "blow it away." He estimates peak sales at $2 billion, saying, "This is going to be one of the most important drugs in the entire industry in the next couple years."

- read the Bloomberg story

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