Doxycycline shortage shot in the arm for Hikma profits

The drug shortages that continue to plague healthcare providers also continue to provide opportunities for those drugmakers with the drugs that are needed. Jordan's Hikma Pharmaceuticals has again ridden shortages to higher profits, particularly a shortage of the antibiotic doxycycline.

The drug, used for treating a host of conditions--malaria, sexually transmitted diseases and Lyme disease--has been in short supply for months. Hikma is not a large company, so it's all relative. But how much did it benefit from the shortage? The company said that its generics business grew 136.6% to $132 million in the first 6 months of the year. "The generics business is benefiting from exceptional sales of doxycycline and generated strong profitability in the first half of the year," the company said. It was enough for the drugmaker to again raise its projections for the year.

Hikma CEO Said Darwazah acknowledged to Reuters that his company is benefiting from the fact that the FDA has been coming down on problems at competitors, forcing them to cut production while they fix problems at plants. "I think you would be seeing many product price increases because the cost of what the FDA is asking for is quite expensive ... and I hope Hikma will be there to benefit from that," he told the news service.

Darwazah would know. The Jordan-based company last year received a warning letter for its West-Ward division plant in Eatontown, NJ, and in November decided it must temporarily close it to get problems resolved. Last month Hikma said that the plant was slowly reintroducing products to the market. But the substantial growth in its generics sales has been enough to "more than offset" the costs of the ongoing remediation there, the company said Wednesday.

Hikma has faced other manufacturing challenges that many manufacturers do not. Being based in the Middle East, it has substantial business there and in North Africa. Darwazah told Reuters that the company has had to adjust the work hours at its operations in Egypt to account for the country's curfew, imposed because of ongoing strife there. But it hasn't interfered yet with production. "As of now we haven't seen and we don't predict any supply disruptions from Hikma," he said.

- here's the release
- read the Reuters story