New products help Shire surge

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Shire, the UK speciality pharmaceuticals group, saw first-quarter profits almost double, boosted by sales of new products including Elaprase for Hunter syndrome.

Net income rose from $61.1m to $112.7m. Revenues grew by 29 per cent to $528m, stronger than expected, driven by a 21 per cent rise in sales of its top-selling hyperactivity drug Adderall XR and a series of other new drug launches.

Adderall XR maintained its 26 per cent share of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) market, which according to Shire is growing in volume by 5 per cent a year.

Product sales grew 33 per cent to $462m. Pre-tax profits rose from $23.5m to $153.7m. Research and development expenditure fell from $127.4m to $80.8m.

Shire shares rose 4.8 per cent, or 53p, to £11.57 in lunchtime London trading.

The group is in the middle of launching Daytrana, a skin patch treatment for ADHD, as well as Elaprase for Hunter syndrome, a rare inherited disorder.

It is also due to launch Vyvanse, its next-generation treatment for ADHD and its next big drug hope, in the next few weeks.

The company had forecast sales growth of 20 per cent year and said on Wednesday it expected an increase in the “low 20 per cent range”. Sales and marketing expenses, it said, would rise to between $930m and $960m because of the introduction of new products.

Shire completed the acquisition of its US partner New River Pharmaceuticals this month for $2.6bn (£1.33bn) in a deal that gives it a replacement for Adderall XR, which goes off-patent in two years.

But analysts have said the deal also makes Shire an increasingly attractive takeover target.

Shire, which paid $64 a share for New River, is financing the deal with $2.3bn of new debt and a share placing that raised $900m. The deal will be earnings enhancing after 2009, the company said.

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