Lundbeck anti-binge drinking drug gets EU OK

In a boost for struggling Lundbeck, and perhaps for college campuses, the European Union has approved its anti-binge drinking drug Selincro.

The approval comes from the European Medicines Agency and is the second piece of good news in as many days for the Danish drugmaker, which has been slashing staff and earnings projections this year as it deals with the patent loss of Lexapro, the antidepressant that was its best-selling drug. Lundbeck said this week that the FDA would consider approval of a new antidepressant it has developed with partner Takeda Pharmaceutical.

Selincro, which works on the brain to reduce the urge to keep drinking, is supposed to be used in conjunction with counseling, Bloomberg reports. Lundbeck is targeting the EU, where annual per capita alcohol use at 12.18 liters (3.2 gallons) is twice the global average and 40% higher than in the Americas. It plans on moving to Russia next for approval. After getting some experience with how the drug works in conjunction with counseling, Lundbeck CEO Ulf Wiinberg told Bloomberg that the company will start consider other markets like the U.S., Japan, China and South Korea.

Peter Welford, an analyst at Jefferies International in London, puts the low end of sales at $55 million with the potential to reach $300 million. The revenue is much needed by Lundbeck, which in June axed 600 jobs, mostly in Europe, where government austerity also dealt another blow to the drugmaker's fortunes.

Earlier this year, Lundbeck told investors not to expect earnings growth again until 2015 as sales of Lexapro, marketed as Cipralex outside the U.S., start to fall off in a number of countries. The company figures that it will lose about 80% of its Lexapro sales to generic competition this year and 90% next year.

- read the Bloomberg story

Special Report: Lexapro - 10 Largest U.S. Patent Losses