Shire's binge-eating push on Vyvanse feeds Q1 earnings beat

Flemming Ornskov, CEO of Shire

When Vyvanse in February won the FDA's first-ever approval for binge eating disorder (BED), Shire ($SHPG) predicted the indication could help the med rake in an extra $200 million to $300 million. Shire is already making its way there, it said Thursday, and the new sales helped the company notch a Q1 profit beat.

Revenue jumped 11% to $1.49 billion, Shire said, in turn pushing non-GAAP EPS to $2.84 to top Wall Street's $2.60 expectations, Reuters reports. And Vyvanse did its part to trigger the sales leap, chipping in with a 17% rise of its own to $417 million.

While CEO Flemming Ornskov didn't break down just how much the new nod fueled Vyvanse' growth, he did say overall prescriptions for adults over its 5 to 6 weeks on that market were up about 3%. "We look at the prescription trends and take that as a great indicator for the unmet need for this condition," he said, as quoted by the news service.

Monica Seles

That's not to say the treatment is without its critics. After signing on tennis star and former BED sufferer Monica Seles to help with DTC promotion, the Dublin drugmaker drew fire for its aggressive marketing tactics. The Seles campaign, combined with a beefed up neurosciences sales force and a pair of websites devoted to disease education and Vyvanse information, were too much, some critics said. Especially considering that Vyvanse is essentially an amphetamine--and amphetamines have a long history of triggering abuse in overweight patients.

Shire, though, claims the push is necessary to get the word out about BED, a condition physicians and patients may not be so familiar with. After helping build up the ADHD market around one-time star Adderall, the company knows how to get that job done.

If Shire can hit that $200 million to $300 target in BED, it'll help bring the company closer to achieving its 2020 dream--$10 billion in product sales. Ornskov has been touting that benchmark since AbbVie ($ABBV) set out to buy Shire last year, a prospect the Illinois pharma ultimately dumped in the wake of newer, stricter U.S. laws on tax inversions.

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Special Report: The 25 most influential people in biopharma today - 2013 - Flemming Ornskov - Shire