ZURICH Oct 21 Shares in Swiss group Actelion
climbed more than five percent to their highest since
late 2007 on Monday on optimism it has a viable product to
secure sales and profit after U.S. approval for a new heart and
lung drug with a favourable label.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the Swiss biotech
company's pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) drug Opsumit
late on Friday and, notably, did not impose a black box warning
requiring ongoing mandatory liver testing.
This gives the medicine an advantage over Actelion's older
product and current main seller, Tracleer, which had sales of
1.5 billion Swiss francs ($1.66 billion) in 2012 but loses
patent protection from 2015.
"Opsumit's FDA approved label is close to a best case
outcome, in our view," said Deutsche Bank analyst Richard
Parkes, who has a 'buy' rating on the stock and raised his price
target to 72 francs from 70 francs.
Shares in Actelion were up 5.3 percent at 68.00 francs by
0752 GMT, outperforming a 0.5 percent firmer European healthcare
Analysts at Jefferies agreed and said the drug had the
"unique indications" of delaying disease progression and
reducing hospitalisation due to PAH.
The brokerage, which forecasts peak sales of $1.4 billion
assuming a 40 percent new PAH patient share at a 15 percent
price discount to Tracleer and Gilead Sciences' rival
drug Letairis, also raised its price target to 79 francs from 71
Analysts at Berenberg were more cautious and said the
requirement for doctors to carry out pre-therapy liver testing
before prescribing Opsumit was slightly more burdensome than
what is required for Letairis.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension, or PAH, is characterised by
high blood pressure in the arteries connecting the heart to the
lungs, which causes the right side of the heart to work harder
than normal and leads to shortness of breath.
Opsumit belongs to a class of drugs known as endothelin
receptor antagonists, which relax the pulmonary arteries and
decrease that pressure.