Mallinckrodt places hopes on 'modernized' Acthar with generic unit facing bankruptcy

Acthar gel
Mallinckrodt hopes a "long-term stabilization" of H.P. Acthar Gel will help weather the storm from its proposed $1.6 billion opioid deal. (Mallinckrodt)

With Mallinckrodt facing a proposed $1.6 billion opioid settlement and bankruptcy of its specialty generics unit, the Irish drugmaker is digging deep for promising signs in what's left of the business. One source of hope? None other than controversial H.P. Acthar Gel, which Mallinckrodt said it's working to prop up amid the opioid fallout.

Mallinckrodt is in the midst of an Acthar "modernization" to help drive growth in its branded drugs unit as the company works through the court-supervised restructuring––and possible future sale––of its generics business, executives said in a fourth-quarter earnings call with analysts Tuesday. 

Acthar, long a source of legal issues for Mallinckrodt after its acquisition in 2014, hit $952 million in sales in 2019 at a 14.2% decrease from the previous year. Mallinckrodt tied that down year to "continued reimbursement challenges impacting new and returning patients and continued payer scrutiny on overall specialty pharmaceutical spending," the company said in a release.

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But even with revenues down, Mallinckrodt is predicting a "long-term stabilization" of Acthar sales that could help the drugmaker weather the storm of its pending opioid settlement and generics restructuring. 

"We continue to invest heavily in Acthar, continue to modernize the brand and that applies to enhancements to the label," CEO Mark Trudeau told analysts. "We've invested greater than $0.5 billion in research and development and other activities to modernize the brand."

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