Belgian biopharma company UCB has predicted that patent expiry will strongly affect its European growth in 2012.
While UCB’s blockbuster epilepsy drug Keppra faced little generic competition in Europe following its patent expiry in 2011, the company predicts a 50% sales fall for the product in 2012.
However, the company’s CEO said its focus on severe diseases of the immune system and CNS has helped to insulate it against economic austerity.
UCB saw its revenues rise by 1% to €3.25bn in 2011, but predicts a fall of nearly 5% to €3.1bn in 2012.
According to a UCB spokesman, Keppra faces competition from more than 100 generic substitutes in 2012, and its European sales can be expected to fall by 50%.
Delays in the launch of generic alternatives protected Keppra in 2011, when its global sales increased by 3% despite its patent expiry.
UCB’s CEO, Roch Doliveux, said that its commitment to therapy areas such as epilepsy and immunology had shielded the company from the impact of European austerity: “We still have the means in Europe for many years to come to pay for severe healthcare issues, and that’s what we’re addressing.”
Last year, UCB benefited from increased sales of three products: Vimpat for epilepsy, Neupro for Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome, and Cimzia for Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Doliveux also argued that value-based pricing – due to be adopted by the NHS in 2014 – is not a good model to support innovation. He argued that the current PPRS system is “a very robust system that a lot of countries have tried to copy, and PPRS works well.”
Among non-UK companies, UCB is the leading non-British investor in UK pharmaceutical R&D.