JPM: Jazz eyes a 'dramatic' shift to new-drug revenue by 2022, CEO says

Jazz and PharmaMar Zepzelca for small cell lung cancer
Zepzelca was one of three successful Jazz launches in 2020, CEO Bruce Cozadd says. (Jazz Pharmaceuticals)

Jazz Pharmaceuticals is in the middle of a four-product launch cycle—one in 2019, two in 2020 and one more targeted for 2021—and a dramatic shift for the small pharma.

For years, Jazz has depended on Xyrem to fuel its growth, but 2021 will change that. Thanks to the new drugs, plus launches in new markets and new indications, about half of Jazz's revenue will come from new drugs by 2022, CEO Bruce Cozadd said.

“In my 18 years with the company, this is probably the most dramatic progress in a 12-month period I’ve ever seen. And then of course to do that during the pandemic has been remarkable,” Cozadd said in an interview, adding praise for the FDA’s work to stay on track with approvals.

Jazz sleep med Sunosi kicked off the approval surge in 2019, joined by narcolepsy treatment Xywav and small cell lung cancer drug Zepzelca last year. All three meds had digital launches during the pandemic—Sunosi in the EU, the others in the U.S. 

Set to roll out this year is blood cancer therapy JZP-458, filed in December for FDA approval in acute lymphoblastic leukemia and lymphoblastic lymphoma. After some initial delays, Jazz submitted that application under the FDA's Real Time Oncology Review program, setting it up for a decision by year-end.

Plus, Jazz is prepping a follow-up Xywav launch; it's expecting to file the drug for a new indication in idiopathic hypersomnia this quarter.

RELATED: Jazz's Xywav, a low-sodium alternative to blockbuster Xyrem, snags FDA nod in narcolepsy

While 2020 and the pandemic forced Jazz to slow down clinical trial enrollment and reinvent its launch plans, the pharma largely hit its goals for the year, Cozadd said. The company has not officially reported fourth-quarter results yet, but it saw top-line growth through the third quarter with cash flow from operations approaching $1 billion, he said.

The company expects to report 2020 revenue of $2.32 billion to $2.38 billion, which fell within expectations, Wells Fargo analysts noted. And there's a lot of stock-moving news to come, the analysts wrote in an investor note after the J.P. Morgan presentation, reiterating their overweight rating on the shares: "We think the stock is setting up for a catalyst rich 2021 to diversify its revenue mix."

Meanwhile, with the launches underway, the company is in spend mode, Cozadd said. “We’re investing heavily in the business right now because we’re in launch mode on a number of products, so we ramped up spending significantly,” he said.

That investment includes expanded DTC advertising for Sunosi—adding a TV commercial to ongoing digital efforts—as well as 50 new sales reps to reach more physicians.

RELATED: Jazz launches new wave of marketing for Sunosi with TV ad and 50 new sales reps

All three launches this year switched to mostly digital because of the pandemic, but Cozadd deems them all successful—with each building on lessons learned from the previous one.

“Every time you do something new, you learn. I think we’re getting better and better at it,” he said, adding “there are elements of what we learned in 2020 that we will apply whether or not we’re in the same situation in 2021.”