GlaxoSmithKline has issued upbeat guidance despite a 12% fall in sales of its blockbuster asthma and COPD drug Advair, as new products enter the respiratory drug market.
Sales from GSK’s pharmaceuticals and vaccines division were down 4% for the second quarter to £4.5bn ($7.7bn), compared to the same period last year, with its respiratory portfolio contributing £1.6bn to the total.
The pharma giant’s asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) drug Advair – a combination preparation of fluticasone propionate and salmeterol xinafoate – was still its topseller, but sales declined 12% year-on-year to £1.1bn worldwide with a 19% fall in the US.
CEO Andrew Witty blamed Advair’s slumping figures on “continued pricing and contracting pressure in the respiratory market” during a conference call yesterday, and though he told investors sales of the product are likely to continue to decline, the firm expects “new respiratory products Breo, Anoro and Incruse to generate new sales growth.”
Advair lost its patent in the US in 2010, though the patent on the delivery device remains until 2016, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued guidance last September to help push through generic competition.
However it is alternative treatments on the market – such as AstraZeneca’s Symbicort, Merck’s Singulair, as well as GSK’s own respiratory offerings – which has added significant price pressure on Advair.
“What we are seeing is a product which is now 14 or 15 years old, is a very substantial product, market leading product coming under inevitable price pressure, competitive pressure,” said Witty. “The environment has changed fundamentally, where there are more products in the marketplace, not least from ourselves.”
“It's our strategy to build on Advair with the five, six, seven, new respiratory products we have,” he continued. “That strategy is absolutely clearly active. The products are now there. The products have been rolled out.”
The COPD drug Breo was approved by the FDA in May 2013 and contributed £11m to this quarter’s revenues. Anoro was approved in December 2013, whilst Incruse received the FDA thumbs up in April this year. All three drugs use the firm’s Ellipta dry powder inhaler device for administration.