Eyetech boosts Macugen sales view

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Shares of Eyetech Pharmaceuticals jumped Wednesday after the New York biotechnology firm lifted its fiscal 2005 estimate of net product revenue from sales of Macugen, which is used to treat a leading cause of blindness in older people.

The stock
closed up 3.5% to $13.44 on Wednesday.

Eyetech now sees sales from Macugen coming in between $175 million and $190 million for the year ending Dec. 31. The company had previously projected revenues of $135 million to $150 million for the product.

Macugen is used to treat a condition called age-related wet macular degeneration, generally referred to as AMD, an eye disease that leads to a progressive loss of vision.

“Macugen’s launch has exceeded our initial expectations, and we are pleased that Macugen is quickly establishing itself as a foundation therapy for neovascular AMD,” said Eyetech Chief Executive David Guyer in a statement.

He continued: “The strong Macugen sales to date represent continued growth in new accounts combined with larger and more frequent reorders, which demonstrates that retinal specialists are adopting Macugen even faster than we previously anticipated.”

In a conference call with investors later Wednesday, Eyetech management said that the drug was on track to becoming one of the top 10 biggest biotechnology-product launches in the last 20 years.

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Eyetech management also addressed rumors that Genentech’s promising eye drug — Lucentis, which is in late-stage clinical testing — was more effective in treating AMD than Macugen. Eyetech’s stock dropped almost 50% on May 24 after Genentech released highly favorable Phase III data on Lucentis.

Executives at Eyetech repeatedly said that Genentech’s data analysis was “early and incomplete,” and that the products could not be compared without a head-to-head comparison study. Lucentis is based on Genentech’s best-selling cancer drug, Avastin.

Chief Operating Officer Paul Chaney said that instead of slowing, Macugen’s sales have been speeding up since Genentech released its Lucentis results.

Eyetech is also testing Macugen for the treatment of diabetic macular edema and central retinal-vein occlusion, both of which can lead to blindness. The company is also looking to test Macugen in combination with other ophthalmology drugs and explore using it as a preventive medication.

In addition, Eyetech indicated that it expects to record a noncash charge of between $17 million and $19 million in the next year, related to a decision to accelerate the vesting of certain stock options. The move is part of an effort to lower future expenses and realign employee incentives.

The company estimates the acceleration of the vesting will cut the charge related to expensing of unvested options by as much as $61 million over the 40 months, following the required implementation of new accounting rules.

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Eyetech launched Macugen in January with partner Pfizer
Net product revenue from Macugen totaled $23.7 million in the fiscal first quarter ended March 31.

On April 20, when Eyetech reported results for the first quarter, the company said that based on the Macugen sales estimate of $135 million to $150 million it didn’t expect to be profitable in 2005, although it anticipates “a trend toward profitability” in the latter half of the year.

View more information: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/eyetech-shares-lift-on-higher-macugen-sales-view

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