Disease: Pulmonary arterial hypertension
Global 2013 sales: $1.57 billion (1.532 billion Swiss francs)
Patent expiration date: November 2015
Actelion ($ATLN) has fought energetically to fend off branded competition for its pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) treatment Tracleer--some say too energetically. But Tracleer will soon have cheap copycats to contend with, and its sales will be as vulnerable to generic erosion as most newly off-patent meds.
With $1.57 billion in global sales last year, Tracleer has kept on growing despite new competition from Bayer's PAH treatment Adempas. Partly thanks to price hikes, Tracleer brought in 791 million Swiss francs ($810 million) for the first half of this year, up slightly over the same period in 2013.
Plus, Actelion has plans to fortify sales after Tracleer starts its slide. The company won approval in October 2013 for Opsumit, its Tracleer follow-up--10 days after Bayer nabbed its green light for Adempas. So far, Opsumit hasn't delivered much--its first-half 2014 sales amounted to $58.8 million--but it's early days yet, and the company says it's pleased with progress so far.
Though the company is now favoring Opsumit where it can, Actelion says it is still selling hard on Tracleer in other countries that are still awaiting the new drug.
Meanwhile, Actelion is high on the list of pharma M&A targets, what with the newly approved Opsumit just getting started and another potential PAH treatment, selexipag, in late-stage trials. Analysts have said Big Pharmas from AstraZeneca ($AZN) to GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) to Novartis ($NVS) could benefit from an Actelion buyout.
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-- Tracy Staton (email | Twitter)