Allergan CEO: 2017 should be Kybella's breakout year

SAN FRANCISCO—Allergan CEO Brent Saunders is tired of hearing from investors that chin-fat buster Kybella’s launch isn’t going as well as, say, that of IBS-D med Viberzi or schizophrenia treatment Vraylar. So in a Monday presentation at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, he did his best to set the record straight.

“Kybella is not a pharmaceutical launch,” he stressed. “It’s a medical aesthetic launch. It’s a new market, and we know from looking at historical data of launching Botox and launching fillers that Year 2 is pivotal to the launch of a medical aesthetic product.”

Year 2 for the product—which Allergan nabbed in October 2015 upon buying maker Kythera for $2.1 billion—will, of course, be 2017. And as that historical data suggests, the Dublin drugmaker should end the year with 20% of Kybella’s peak sales in the chin-fat indication.

If Kybella’s peak sales are going to rival blockbuster Botox’s, though—as execs have predicted they could—the company has some work to do. Through the first three quarters of 2016, Kybella pulled in just $38.2 million, though sales are on the rise; Allergan recorded more than a third of that haul in Q3 with $14.2 million.

Allergan, though, is working on snagging some additional indications for Kybella, including one in reducing bra-line fat. And regardless, when it comes to launches, Saunders isn’t worried about how his team will perform.

“Launch excellence is something that is a core competency of our commercial team,” he told investors, noting that that’s “one of the things I want to stress to you.”