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(Reuters) - Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (REGN.O) said its eczema drug Dupixent was off to a strong start and the biotech stood by its full-year sales forecast for its flagship drug Eylea even as competition heats up.
The company's shares jumped nearly 6 percent to $430.93 on Thursday.
Regeneron is betting on two key treatments – sarilumab, to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and Dupixent – to reduce its reliance on Eylea, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of total revenue.
Dupixent was approved in late March to treat severe atopic dermatitis and about 3,500 prescriptions for it have been written so far, Chief Executive Leonard Schleifer said on a post-earnings call.
That was substantially higher than the 2,500 prescriptions partner Sanofi SA (SASY.PA) reported last week, Jefferies Biren Amin said. He lifted his estimate for Dupixent's 2017 sales by fourfold to $144 million.
Regeneron also said two of the largest U.S. pharmacy benefits managers have agreed to cover Dupixent and the drug is well positioned to secure broad coverage by the end of 2017.
Dupixent, also being tested for an allergic inflammatory condition of the esophagus, costs about $37,000 and is expected to generate peak annual sales of more than $4 billion.
Regeneron also said it was gearing up for the launch of sarilumab, after the FDA decides on the drug, expected by May 22.
Eylea has powered much of the company's growth since late 2011. However, the drug's sales growth has slowed in recent quarters, mainly due to competition from Roche AG's (ROG.S) Lucentis.
U.S. sales of Eylea rose 9 percent in the first quarter – in line with Regeneron's expectations that growth would slow to the single-digit percentage range this year from the double-digit growth enjoyed since the drug was launched in 2011.
But the quarterly sales of $854 million was just shy of analysts' estimates due to inventory destocking and greater discounting.
Sales of Regeneron's cholesterol fighter Praluent were $36 million in the quarter, well short of estimates of $62 million, which the company blamed on an ongoing lawsuit.
However, total revenue rose to $1.32 billion, edging past analysts' estimate of $1.30 billion, due to strong collaboration revenue from partners Sanofi and Bayer (BAYGn.DE).
Net income jumped 37.2 percent to $248.9 million. But, adjusted profit of $2.92 per share missed analysts' estimate of $3.06, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, due to a bigger-than-expected tax bill.
Reporting by Natalie Grover and Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza