Baxter prepping for HyQvia launch with spinoff's success on the line

Baxter CEO Robert Parkinson

It's been a long road for Baxter's ($BAX) primary immunodeficiency (PID) replacement therapy in the U.S., but the Illinois company is finally preparing to roll out the med in its home country. And with its biopharma spinoff on the calendar for next year, a solid launch is something the drugmaker could use.

After an initial FDA rejection in 2012, HyQvia will launch in the U.S. next week, Baxter CEO Robert Parkinson said on a call with investors Thursday. And since the drug is a subcutaneous treatment that requires only one infusion per month and one injection site per infusion--current subcutaneous competitors require weekly or biweekly treatment with multiple infusions sites per treatment--he thinks Baxter's med has a chance to make a splash in a $2 billion market.

"Only approximately 35% of patients are treated subcutaneously, providing a unique opportunity for HyQvia as a differentiated therapy," he said on the call, as quoted by SeekingAlpha.

Ludwig Hantson

According to BioScience President Ludwig Hantson, that convenience will come at a cost. HyQvia will be "launching at a premium," which is consistent with the drug's "unique value," he told investors. As part of that pricing strategy, the company has already gotten a start on introducing the drug to PBMs and payers.

All in all, analysts have suggested the drug could pull in $1.5 billion in peak sales, PMLiVE reports, and CFO Robert Hombach said the launch should help the company's biotherapeutics franchise post 4% growth by the end of the year.

And that's growth Baxter could use as it gears up to part ways with the biopharma unit that will become Baxalta after next year's spinoff. That unit's revenue swelled 8% to hit $1.7 billion thanks to strong showings from its hemophilia drugs, which grew 11% to reach $942 million.

But a couple of those drugs--including heavyweight hemophilia A product Advate--have some new, long-acting competition courtesy of Biogen Idec ($BIIB). And the Massachusetts biotech has priced its newcomers on par with Baxter's older therapies despite their convenience edge, a move some analysts believe will pave the way for patient-switching.

- read the call transcript from SeekingAlpha
- get more from PMLiVE