Alexion sets up Soliris successor for switching

Has the new pricing reality begun to sink in for Alexion? The company, which has one of the world’s most expensive drugs in Soliris, has priced its next-generation product Ultomiris at around $458,000 per year, a 10% discount to its forerunner, in its first use, paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH). In other indications the new drug is set to come in at an even bigger discount because of dose-dependent pricing for Soliris leading to higher costs in diseases like atypical haemolytic uremic syndrome. Ultomiris’s dose is flat across indications. Investors sent Alexion’s stock down 7% on Friday, but in reality the company probably had little choice on pricing: the new drug's main advantage is a less frequent dosing schedule – it failed to show superiority to Soliris in its pivotal trials – which might not have been enough for payers in the current environment. And Alexion needs the switch from Soliris to Ultomiris to go as smoothly as possible with the looming threat of competition from the likes of Roche, Regeneron and Apellis. Still, the move could bode ill for even more cost-conscious markets; Ultomiris is under review in Europe and Japan for PNH. 

Extending Alexion's complement franchise  
  2018e 2020e 2022e 2024e
Soliris 3,483 3,540 2,748 2,429
Ultomiris - 987  2,461 3,434
Source: EvaluatePharma.

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