UPDATE 2-Shire confident on 2013 as it boosts genetic drugs unit

Tue Jan 8, 2013 7:07pm GMT

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LONDON Jan 8 (Reuters) - British drugmaker Shire reassured investors that it was on target to meet 2013 earnings expectations and said it was boosting its genetic drugs line with a new acquisition.

The company, which has expanded by acquiring late-stage or already marketed drugs in niche areas, had a weak third quarter, missing market expectations as it faced increased generic competition for its hyperactivity drug.

However, outgoing CEO Angus Russell will tell investors at a healthcare conference in San Francisco that the company "is now increasingly confident of meeting current consensus earnings expectations for 2013", Shire said in a statement on Tuesday.

Analysts forecast earnings per share of $2.20 in 2013, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimates.

The company also reiterated that it would post double-digit earnings growth in 2012.

Earlier on Tuesday Shire said it had agreed to buy Lotus Tissue Repair, a U.S. biotechnology company developing the first treatment for a rare genetic disorder that causes extremely fragile skin and recurrent blister formation.

Shire said the purchase, for an undisclosed sum, would boost the pipeline of its Human Genetic Therapies unit, which makes protein therapies for genetic conditions such as Hunter's Syndrome and Fabry and Gaucher diseases.

Lotus Tissue Repair's lead product candidate, which is in late pre-clinical development, is a protein replacement therapy for the treatment of dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (DEB), Shire said.

"DEB ... (impacts) the lives of patients and their families, many of whom have few or no treatment options other than palliative care," said Philip J. Vickers, head of R&D at Shire Human Genetic Therapies.

Shares in FTSE 100-listed Shire closed up 2.6 percent at 1,963 pence, their highest level since September.

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