Toward the end of 2020, AstraZeneca splashed out $39 billion for Alexion to expand its immunology presence. That's a big price—and questions naturally followed about whether it was justified.
Now, the rare disease specialist has offered up some more information about what, exactly, the British pharma is getting for its money.
Alexion expects 2020 sales to exceed the high end of its previous expectation of $5.9 billion to 5.95 billion, which was itself the result of a $350 million increase on both ends in October, CFO Aradhana Sarin said at the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference Tuesday.
Not too shabby. And for 2025, the company’s targeting about $9 billion to $10 billion in global revenue. To hit that goal, Alexion’s counting on significantly expanding the number of U.S. neurology patients receiving its drugs.
In 2020, Soliris grew its neurology patient count—in generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG) and neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD)—to 2,588 in the U.S. from 1,885 the prior year, Sarin said. By 2025, it intends to reach 7,500 patients.
“We have highly specialized field teams supporting diagnosis and treatment through best-in-class data and analytics, providing access to care and supporting patients through each step of their journey to treatment,” Sarin said. “These capabilities are unique, not easily replicable and necessary to serving patients with rare diseases.”
A key part of that expansion goal rests on Soliris follow-up Ultomiris. Phase 3 data from Ultomiris in gMG and NMOSD are expected to read out in the second half of this year and second half of 2022, respectively.
Alexion expects the majority of the C5 inhibitor market to convert to Ultomiris from Soliris by then, because the newer drug beat its predecessor on all trial endpoints in two phase 3 trials and boasts a convenience edge, too.
On that latter point, Alexion is advancing a once-weekly version of Ultomiris that patients can self-administer. Filing for that under-the-skin regimen is expected in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, the company has a third-generation C5 candidate with a gMG launch planned for 2025. Dubbed ALXN1720, the drug is a long-acting bispecific mini-body that’s also designed for potential delivery with an auto-injector.
In addition to the flagship C5 franchise, Sarin pointed to what she called a “repowered launch” of the company's bleeding reversal drug Andexxa. The drug came to Alexion by way of a $1.4 billion acquisition of Portola Pharmaceuticals last year.
That buyout immediately drew investor criticism because of Andexxa's bleak sales figures. But Alexion believes additional indications—to include more anticoagulants Andexxa could counteract—as well as geographic expansions, paired with the company’s experience in hospital settings, could turn things around.
All told, Alexion looks on track for 10 launches by 2023, including Ultomiris in gMG and NMOSD.
Editor's Note: The story has been updated with the correct Alexion 2020 sales expectation.