Business Irish

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Firm at centre of cystic fibrosis drug row sees sales rise by 8pc

Vertex chairman, president and ceo Jeffrey Leiden
Vertex chairman, president and ceo Jeffrey Leiden

Gordon Deegan

Sales of the cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco, which is made by Vertex, increased in Ireland in 2015 by 8pc to €23.87m.

That is according to new accounts filed by the Dublin based Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Ireland), which confirm that the business recorded an operating profit of €1.1m for the year.

In recent months, the US pharma firm, led by Jeffrey Leiden, has been in the spotlight after drug advisers to the HSE recommended not to make Vertex's new cystic fibrosis drug, Orkambi available to cystic fibrosis patients.

Orkambi, which improves lung function and reduces hospitalisation for CF patients, would cost €160,000 a patient annually, or €400m for the health service over five years, according to its initial price.

The HSE has been willing to pay €75m, which would make it the sixth-most expensive drug used by the Irish health system.

The controversy around the drug resulted in CF patients and their families protesting outside the Dáil last month. Revenues at the Irish arm of Vertex plummeted by 86pc from €273m to €37m in 2015.

The revenues were made up of €23.8m in relation to the sale of Kalydeco in Ireland and €13.74m from discontinued operations.

The drop in revenues was due to a company re-organisation where it stopped selling Vertex products to the US.

The accounts show that the firm recorded a gross profit of €820,000 in 2015 on the sale of its Kalydeco drug here as cost of sales totalled €23.05m.

The company's principal activity now is to sell Kalydeco in Ireland and in relation to its 'future developments' the directors state that the company will continue to concentrate on the distribution of Kalydeco to external customers in Ireland.

The accounts show that the firm recorded a pre-tax loss of €8.99m for 2015 and this is mainly due to foreign exchange losses of €10.35m. The €8.99m pre-tax loss in 2015 is more than double the pre-tax loss of €3.88m sustained in 2014.

Globally, in the third quarter of 2016, Vertex reported worldwide revenues of $176m (€163m) for Kalydeco with $101m (€94m) of sales in the US and $75m (€69m) outside the US while sales of Orkambi during the same period totalled $234m (€217m) made up of $211m (€196m) in the US and $23m (€21.4m) outside the US.

Vertex worldwide expected 2016 Orkambi sales to be between $950m (€884m) and $990m (€922m) and Kalydeco sales to be between $685m (€637m) and $705m (€705m).

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