Fourth Quarter Growth Driven by Serostim(R) and Rebif(R)
Tuesday January 19, 10:19 am Eastern Time
Company Press Release
SOURCE: The Ares-Serono Group
GENEVA, Switzerland and NORWELL, Mass., Jan. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ares- Serono Group today reported unaudited worldwide net sales of US$918.4 million for the year ending December 31, 1998 compared to $864.0 million in 1997, an increase of 6.3%. Sales increased by 9.1% in local currencies.
"Our research investment behind biotechnology based products is paying off, and our overall sales performance demonstrates that we will make further progress in 1999," said Ernesto Bertarelli, chief executive officer of Ares- Serono. "Our plans for Rebif® are on schedule, with its successful rollout across Europe in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. The two recent CPMP recommendations for the higher dose and the disability claim will further drive our product market penetration."
GROWTH IN NEW THERAPEUTIC FIELDS AND BIOTECH DRUGS
The company's strategy of broadening its therapeutic areas and concentrating on biotechnology products is reflected in the changing mix of its sales results. Biotechnology products grew 75% to $489.1 million in 1998 from $279.1 million in 1997.
Reproductive Health remained Ares-Serono's leading therapeutic area, with sales of $539.1 million, a decrease of 6.6% compared to 1997. Sales of Gonal-F® (recombinant gonadotropin), the group's best selling product, more than doubled to $243.8 million, representing half of total gonadotropins sales in 1998.
AIDS-related wasting has become an important new and growing therapeutic field for Ares-Serono. This is reflected in the strong demand for Serostim, which jumped by an impressive 127% to $88.2 million from $38.8 million a year earlier.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sales continued to develop due to the successful rollout of Rebif®across Europe, Latin America and Canada in the relapsing- remitting indication. Worldwide, Rebif sales for multiple sclerosis increased to $44.3 million from $18.7 million a year earlier. Since its launch in May 1998 in Europe, Rebif has become the preferred product in terms of numbers of new patients captured, thereby doubling sales in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter.
In the field of growth, sales of Saizen®, Ares-Serono's recombinant human growth hormone, increased to $88.8 million in 1998 from $83.7 million a year earlier.
FOURTH QUARTER BOOSTED BY SEROSTIM®AND REBIF®
In the fourth quarter 1998, worldwide sales increased 21.3% to $269.9 million from $222.6 million in 1997 (+20.5% in local currencies). This strong comparative performance with 1997 reflects the success of Rebif in the MS indication and the significant progress of Serostim. Reproductive health also returned to growth in the fourth quarter with sales of $158.6 million compared to $150.7 million last year.
GONAL-F® AND REBIF® DRIVE SALES IN EUROPE
Total European sales in 1998 increased by 5.2% to $417.6 million compared to $397.1 million in 1997. In local currencies, sales in Europe grew by 8.3%, led by Italy and Germany. In the UK and France, market share in reproductive health stabilized in the second half of the year. In reproductive health, Gonal-F continued to replace sales of Metrodin HP (highly purified gonadotropin).
Rebif as performed well in all countries where it has been launched for relapsing-remitting MS, and this month's launch in France and Italy will complete the roll-out for all major European countries.
Our clear objective with Rebif (interferon beta-1a) is to provide MS patients and their physicians with optimum care regarding efficacy, convenience and flexibility of treatment. We have established in our major state of the art studies (including OWIMS and PRISMS) the dose-dependent efficacy of Rebif in relapsing-remitting MS, and this has been recognized by the authorities in a series of recommendations.
Marketing authorization for Rebif 22 mcg in the European Union was obtained
in May 1998, and in October 1998 the Committee for Proprietary Medicinal
Products (CPMP)(A) recommended that Ares-Serono be allowed to claim that
Rebif slows the progression of disability. At its December 1998 meeting,
the CPMP recommended that Rebif 44 mcg be granted marketing authorization
for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS.