UPDATED: Regeneron expanding with new drugs in pipeline

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ($REGN), which already is seeing a surge of sales of its eye drug Eylea, is expanding production as it bets on the future of other new drugs it has in the pipeline.

The New York company says it is plowing $75 million into its plant in East Greenbush and could add up to 110 jobs, reports the Business Review. Vice President Peter Dworkin tells FiercePharma via email that "the primary driver for the plan to build 20,000 more liters of capacity and more office space" at its East Greenbush, NY plant, is the expanding Regeneron antibody pipeline.

That comes on the heels of its announcement Wednesday, again boosting its forecast of sales for the sight-restoring drug. The company Wednesday said it now believes full-year U.S. Eylea sales will tally $700 million to $750 million. That is up 50% from the $500 million to $550 million projected just three months ago, which was nearly double an earlier projection.

Eylea, like competitor treatments, is for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the key cause of blindness in the elderly. Like Roche's ($RHHBY) Lucentis, it can actually restore some sight. But Eylea's big selling point is that it requires about half as many injections, and costs less than Lucentis. That is why it has been stealing market shares from the Roche drug since its November launch and that is why Regeneron keeps boosting sales projections.

The company in January settled a patent fight with Roche over Eylea and Lucentis, agreeing to pay its Genentech division a $60 million milestone payment, plus royalties when U.S. sales hit $400 million. That now looks like a good deal, perhaps for both.

The company this week easily beat Wall Street projections for sales in the last quarter, racking up $304 million against forecasts of $257 million. It earned 70 cents per share, for its second profitable quarter, and a big turnaround from the loss of 69 cents per share in the year-ago quarter.

"If we hit our new forecast we will be one of the best launches in the history of the biotechnology industry," Chief Executive Leonard Schleifer tell Reuters.

- here's the Reuter's story 
- more from the Business Review 

Related Articles: 
Regeneron to pay Roche royalties on Eylea sales 
Eylea may beat Lucentis on price, but what of Avastin?  

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional details from Regeneron on why it needs to expand.

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