* Company sees patchy availability of Cerezyme, Fabrazyme
* Expects lack of inventory to cause shipping disruptions
* Says expects overall supplies to increase
* Genzyme’s shares down nearly 4 percent
By Toni Clarke
BOSTON, June 29 (Reuters) - Genzyme Corp GENZ.O warned on Tuesday that supplies of its Gaucher and Fabry disease drugs will likely be disrupted over the next few months as the company continues to struggle with limited inventory.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Genzyme said it expects to meet about 50 percent of demand for Cerezyme, its Gaucher treatment, in July, roughly the same as in May and June. After that it expects supplies to increase — though the company declined to say by how much.
Genzyme, which was forced last year to temporarily close its Boston plant due to a viral contamination, said that even though it expects overall supplies of Cerezyme to increase, the lack of spare inventory means any change to its manufacturing plans could result in shipment delays.
Genzyme had said it would maintain supplies of Cerezyme at 50 percent, even as it increased supply, in order to smooth out potential disruptions.
Now the company said it plans to ship everything it has, even though that could lead to shipping disruptions.
“Since we continue to work with extremely limited inventory, even minor changes to our current manufacturing plan can impact availability of Cerezyme,” the company said in a statement
There will be regional variations as to when the drug will be available, the company said.
Genzyme said supplies of Fabrazyme, its treatment for Fabry disease, will remain at the current level — about 30 percent of demand — for the next three months, but that it expects supply to be particularly tight in the July-August timeframe.
“We expect that the available supply of Fabrazyme will increase later in the year,” the company said. “As we get a better understanding of the timing and extent of these increases we will be able to provide guidance on what this will mean for current Fabrazyme patients for the rest of 2010.”
Genzyme’s shares fell 3.85 percent to $51.42, while the NYSE Arca Biotech Index .BTK fell 3.35 percent.
Genzyme is trying to improve the production of Fabrazyme but still has not reached its targets. As a result, the company said, from July through September, many regions will see periods where the drug will be unavailable.
“How patients will be impacted will depend on where they live and on their particular treatment plans,” the company said.
Reporting by Toni Clarke