As Advair sales erode, Benlysta gets EMA nod

Has GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Benlysta hit the market just in time? As the company celebrated the FDA nod for its new lupus drug, to be marketed in partnership with Human Genome Sciences, and then wrapped up European approval, sales of its Advair respiratory drug began to decline. As PharmaTimes reports, the asthma and COPD treatment saw sales fall 7% in June, and year-to-date revenues have dropped by 5%.

Analysts are lamenting the decline, and some see it as a harbinger of worse to come. Generic versions are beginning to crop up, and Goldman Sachs expects copycat Advair to be widely available in Europe within 9 months. In fact, Goldman says pressure on the Advair franchise will cause the stock to underperform.

But on the bright side, GSK execs continue to maintain that Advair generics won't replicate the company's inhaler device, meaning that they won't be fully substitutable, and that, in turn, will help slow down generic adoption. And Matrix's Navid Malik backs up that view, PharmaTimes notes.

What's more, there's Benlysta. It has nabbed final EMA approval after U.S. approval in March. That's one reason why Malik is upbeat about GSK's near-term prospects. He figures the drug should counteract lack of confidence in the company's ability to pull off the kind of growth it needs in the next few years--and he expects GSK to manage top-line growth by next year, just as other Big Pharmas are suffering most.

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