Alexion's new blockbuster Ultomiris keeps gaining steam as $39B AstraZeneca deal looms

Ultomiris
Alexion has chalked up about $3.3 billion in revenue for the first half of 2021. (Alexion)

When AstraZeneca inked its massive $39 billion Alexion buyout, the company sought to get its hands on new revenue sources and to bolster its presence in rare diseases. If Alexion's second-quarter sales are any indication, the company is picking up two healthy blockbuster franchises.

Ultomoris, the successor to Alexion's lucrative paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) drug Soliris, is on track for another blockbuster year. The drug posted $701 million in sales at 2021's midpoint, Alexion said in a recent securities filing, a whopping 48% increase over the same period in 2020.

After debuting with an approval in adult PNH in late 2018, Ultomiris joined the blockbuster club in 2020 with $1.08 billion in sales.

The older Soliris, for its part, continued to deliver. The med posted first-half sales of $2.10 billion, a 5% increase. As for overall performance, Alexion turned out revenues of about $3.33 billion for the first half, a 15% increase over the $2.89 billion the company collected during the period in 2020.

The stats bode well for Alexion's plan to hit between $9 billion and $10 billion in sales by 2025, which CFO Aradhana Sarin outlined at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in January. Sarin's remarks came just a few weeks after AstraZeneca unveiled plans to snap up the immunology and rare disease specialist for $39 billion. After clearing antitrust hurdles on both sides of the Atlantic, the companies now expect the deal to close this week. 

RELATED: The top 10 largest biopharma M&A deals in 2020

AstraZeneca's big outlay didn't go unnoticed by investors, who questioned whether the deal is worth it for both parties. The short answer is yes, analysts from SVB Leerink, Jefferies and ODDO BHF wrote to clients in December. The purchase puts AstraZeneca in line for an immediate $6 billion revenue boost from Alexion's portfolio, buoyed by its C5 inhibitors Soliris and Ultomiris.

AZ expects Alexion's sales to grow by 9% a year through 2023, which aligns with Alexion's own thinking, though there could be “room for higher revenue from Alexion’s portfolio under AZ’s wing," SVB Leerink's Geoffrey Porges said late last year. He specifically pointed to Ultomiris in neurology and the company's "complement portfolio in China, where Alexion is underpenetrated."

RELATED: Alexion's pricey Ultomiris wins backing from England's cost watchdogs thanks to confidential discount

As for Alexion, the company aims to deliver on its $10 billion ambitions in part by expanding the reach of its neurology drugs in the U.S., company execs said at JPM. 

A big part of that expansion will hinge on Ultomiris, which has been hustling to pick up Soliris indications in advance of that drug's 2025 exclusivity loss. Last week, the drug posted a win in generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG), teeing up regulatory filings in late 2021 or early 2022, Alexion said. If granted a green light in that indication, gMG would mark Ultomoris' third approved Soliris use behind PNH and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome.