* Says 4th-quarter Eylea sales were $276 million
* Sees substantial opportunity for growth outside U.S.
* Shares down 5.2 percent
(Adds CEO comment from presentation, share price)
By Bill Berkrot
Jan 8 Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc on
Tuesday forecast U.S. sales of its fast-growing eye drug, Eylea,
of $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion in 2013.
Wall Street was disappointed by the initial sales outlook,
sending Regeneron's high-flying shares down 5 percent.
Regeneron's share price more than tripled in 2012 as the U.S.
biotechnology company repeatedly raised its Eylea sales forecast
over the course of the year.
Regeneron said sales of the product for wet age-related
macular degeneration - the leading cause of blindness among the
elderly - were $276 million in the fourth quarter and $838
million for 2012.
Regeneron Chief Executive Len Schleifer, speaking at the
annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, pointed
out that Eylea recorded strong fourth-quarter sales despite
major holidays and a giant storm that disrupted business in the
Schleifer, whose comments were monitored via webcast, called
Eylea's first year "one of the top launches in the history of
Noting that Tuesday is the 25th anniversary of the start of
the company, Schleifer quipped, "we thought we'd be successful.
We just thought we'd be successful a lot quicker."
In addition to increasing Eylea's U.S. sales through new
patients and approvals for additional uses, such as diabetic
macular edema and retinal vein occlusion, Schleifer called the
opportunity for Eylea sales outside the United States "very
He said the company was working with partner Bayer AG
to launch the drug in several countries.
"We know we're in for a dogfight. Novartis is very tough,
but Bayer is up to the task," Schleifer said. Novartis AG
markets Eylea's main rival, Roche Holding AG's
Lucentis, outside the United States.
Regeneron shares were down 5.2 percent at $173.11 on the
Nasdaq on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Debra Sherman in Chicago; editing by
Jeff Benkoe and Matthew Lewis)