PARIS, March 5 (Reuters) - France's Stallergenes said on Wednesday it had appointed former Actelion manager Christian Chavy as its new chief executive to drive the company's expansion into the U.S. immunotherapy market.
Chavy will become CEO as of March 31, replacing Roberto Gradnik, the company said in a statement. Chavy previously worked for ARES Life Science, an investment fund dedicated to healthcare, and as president of global operations for Actelion, Europe's biggest biotech company.
Stallergenes posted a 3.5 percent rise in revenue in 2013, driven by sales of its immunotherapy pill Oralair, which it hopes to launch this year in the United States for the treatment of grass allergies.
Current operating profit rose 12.4 percent year-on-year and represented 25.6 percent of total revenues of 248.1 million euros ($340.8 million). This is an increase from a 23.2 percent margin in 2012.
The company said it would target low single digit growth in revenues this year assuming European state social security systems maintain stable reimbursement conditions.
Currently marketed in 22 countries, Oralair generates sales of 22.2 million euros last year, a 37 percent jump from 2012.
Oralair is a fast-dissolving tablet to be placed under the tongue that contains extracts from five grass pollens - Sweet vernal, Orchard, Perennial rye, Timothy, and Kentucky bluegrass. It harnesses the immune system to alleviate allergies and is an alternative to current injectable treatments.
Stallergenes hopes to win U.S. approval for the drug by the end of this quarter. Merck and Danish partner ALK Abello are expected to launch their own therapy Grastek in the United States in about the same time frame.
Shares in Stallergenes closed down 1.36 percent at 53.65 euros before the announcements, giving the company a market capitalisation of about 735 million euros.