CORRECT: Acorda Shares Up As MS Drug Ampyra Shows Early Strength In 2Q

Date : 08/04/2010 @ 5:55PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (ACOR)
Quote : 27.8  0.25 (0.91%) @ 8:00PM

CORRECT: Acorda Shares Up As MS Drug Ampyra Shows Early Strength In 2Q

Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACOR)
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Acorda Therapeutics Inc. (ACOR) reported strong sales in its first full quarter of selling the multiple sclerosis symptoms treatment Ampyra, sending its shares 6.4% higher in Tuesday trading.

The Hawthorne, N.Y., drug maker reported second-quarter sales of almost $30 million for the pill, which is intended to improve walking in patients with the neurological condition. About 4,200 physicians have written prescriptions for the drug as of July 30, according to the company.

"We view these sales as highly encouraging, setting a good pace right out of the gate," Lazard Capital Markets analyst Joel Sendek wrote in a note to clients. He had projected Ampyra sales of $17.7 million for the period.

Acorda declined to provide guidance for Ampyra. However, the company worked to resolve a backlog of orders for the drug following its March launch and get insurers to pay for the pill.

Sendek said he believes the launch is progressing well and predicted strong third-quarter sales, citing positive trends from July. Meanwhile, Leerink Swann expects Ampyra to post annual sales of $121 million this year and $674 million by 2014.

Shares of Acorda closed Tuesday at $35.29.

Acorda, which also sells the spasticity treatment Zanaflex, recorded total revenue of $42.8 million for the second quarter. That compares with sales of $17.7 million in the previous quarter, when Ampyra contributed $3.4 million in sales from its first month on the market.

For the three months ended June 30, Acorda narrowed its loss to $6.8 million, or 18 cents per share, from a loss of $23.3 million, or 62 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

The results beat analysts' projections for a loss of 46 cents per share on revenue of $29 million.

During the quarter, Acorda continued to work with insurers on getting the drug covered. The company said that a "mid-single digit percentage" of patients still aren't getting reimbursement from their insurers.

"It is an evolving landscape and it will continue to evolve over the next year," Chief Executive Ron Cohen said Tuesday.

Acorda has 100 sales representatives selling Ampyra in the U.S. They are targeting 5,500 specialists in their effort and already have covered the "vast majority" of that group, Cohen said.

Furthermore, he said Acorda intends to acquire a later-stage drug candidate by the end of the year to augment the early-stage candidates in the company's pipeline. Although Acorda is interested in drugs that already have received regulatory clearance, it is unlikely to add one by the end of the year, he said.

An acquisition would likely be in neurology to leverage Acorda's current sales force, and could range from a migraine drug to an epilepsy or stroke treatment, Cohen said.

He declined to specify the size of any prospective deal. The company had cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments of $216 million at the end of June.

Acorda also disclosed that it received nonfinal rejection letters from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on two patent applications for Ampyra filed in 2004 and 2005. It has six months to respond to the letters.

Ampyra has patent protection only until 2013, but Acorda plans to seek an extension of up to five years, citing the extended development and regulatory review of the drug. The drug has orphan drug exclusivity until January 2017.

Acorda also is researching other formulations of the twice-daily drug that could allow for less frequent dosing, potentially providing additional exclusivity, Cohen said.

Last year, Acorda signed a partnership for Biogen Idec Inc. (BIIB) to market and develop Ampyra, also known as fampridine-SR, outside the U.S. Biogen has filed for approval to sell the drug in Europe and Canada.

-By Thomas Gryta, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2169;


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