Shire CEO sees 'home turf' marketing advantage with NPS buy

SAN FRANCISCO--You don't have to tell Shire ($SHPG) how to execute commercially with the new products it'll pick up when this week's deal for NPS Pharmaceuticals ($NPSP) closes. After 2013's buyout of rare-disease outfit ViroPharma, which yielded revenue synergies just 9 months after close, "we know how to do it," CEO Flemming Ornskov told presentation-watchers at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference Tuesday. "It's not brain surgery."

The Dublin drugmaker, which announced the deal on Sunday, is already readying itself to take on-market short bowel syndrome-fighter Gattex--launched in the U.S. in Q1 2013 and in Europe in Q3 2014--to the next level. And with the No. 2-ranked GI sales force in the U.S.--one that's coming off "probably the best year we've ever had," according to its chief--it's confident it can do just that.

"We have global imprint. We have patient services. We have the ability to launch products. We are in many more countries [than] they are. We have much larger sales forces. We have the infrastructure to maximize the assets to the benefits of the patients," Ornskov said.

Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov

Shire's bulk-up in an area in which it excels is no accident. "You're better off doing acquisitions in areas where you know the field," the Danish helmsman said. "GI and rare diseases? Home turf for us."

And pretty fast-growing home turf, at that. Shire's commercial efforts helped all products in its rare-disease lineup show double-digit growth in last year's Q3--the same quarter the ViroPharma deal closed. "As we have seen, when we add things to our portfolio, all ships rise with the tide," Ornskov pointed out.

With an established integration roadmap, the NPS addition is only "the first step on the journey," for Shire. Ornskov says he'll have enough cash left after this deal to consider other targets. But "right now, we are focused on this opportunity because we don't leave things half-done," he said. "We complete them." -- Carly Helfand (email | Twitter)