ThromboGenics shares slump as slow sales tarnish new drug hope
BRUSSELS Aug 30 (Reuters) - Belgium-based biomedical group ThromboGenics lost nearly a third of its stock market value after it said the second half would be similar to the first as it works to win over doctors to its flagship drug.
Shares in ThromboGenics, maker of newly launched eye drug Jetrea, slumped on Friday to their lowest level since July last year after the company warned second-half sales would not be significantly higher than the first.
"We expect similar numbers in the second half as we have seen in the first half," Patrik De Haes, the company's CEO, said after the company posted results late on Thursday.
De Haes said the drug would take time to take off because it was a new method of treating vitreomacular adhesion, an ageing-related vision problem that can lead to blindness, received EU approval in March.
The drug's performance is tied to the fact that it does not yet have a U.S. J-code, which would grant physicians automatic reimbursement, making them more likely to prescribe the drug.
While the company expects the drug will receive the J-code in 2014, the CEO said this would change the outlook immediately.
"Don't expect in January a hockey stick but let's say ... the financial risk that the doctor was incurring so far will be gone," De Haes said.
Take-up in the United States is just 6 percent of the eligible 50,000 patients, brokerage Jefferies said in a note to clients.
In Europe, pending recommendations from German and British drug approval bodies to use Jetrea on moderate to severe patients would help the drug's roll-out.
ThromboGenics shares fell by as much as 30 percent to a low of 19.71 euros, before recovering slightly to be down 22 percent at 0847 GMT.
Analysts at Jefferies said: "We likely underestimated the physician education required at launch and potentially have too high peak penetration in milder patients." (Reporting by Ben Deighton; Editing by David Holmes)
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