Pharma giant set for US nod on new drug

Shire's bowel treatment could rake in £200m a year
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The Independent Online

Shire, the FTSE 100 drugs giant, is expected to get the green light in a matter of days from US regulators to launch its biggest new drug in years.

Analysts expect the US Food and Drug Administration to approve Mesavance, a pill to treat ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, by 21 January. Karl Keegan, an analyst at bank Canaccord Adams, predicts that the drug could generate between $400m (£207m) and $500m in annual revenues for Shire.

That would make it the UK company's second best-seller after Adderrall XR, its treatment for attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). "This is going to be a big one," Mr Keegan said.

The company's shares gained 42 per cent in the past year after it was tipped as a possible takeover target for larger pharma groups.

Adderrall XR accounts for more than half of the company's $1.3bn of annual sales. Mesavance would help to decrease Shire's dependence on that franchise.

The most popular treatment for ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, is Procter & Gamble's Asacol. Patients on Asacol, however, must take up to 16 pills a day. Mesavance requires only 2 pills a day and has shown equal if not better efficacy.