Shire wants to broaden drug sales through acquisitions

By Stephen Foley
Thursday 08 November 2001 01:00

The UK's third-largest drug maker, Shire Pharmaceuticals, said yesterday that it was looking for acquisitions to bolster its vaccines business.

Rolf Stahel, the chief executive, said the Biologics business, which was acquired in the merger with Canada's BioChem earlier this year, would buy new products and search for partners. The unit last week won a contract from the Canadian government to supply enough flu vaccine for every citizen in the event of a pandemic.

Shire is trying to reduce its reliance on Adderall, a treatment for hyperactive children, which accounted for 40 per cent of group sales in the three months to 30 September, and helped the group grow earnings by 48 per cent. Income before tax was 54 per cent higher than a year ago, at $77.9m.

Adderall prescriptions are growing at just 6 per cent, but revenues from the product leapt 45 per cent thanks to a one-off price increase. Shire is racing to switch patients to its new once-a-day formula of the drug, Adderall XR, before the introduction of copycat competition, expected next spring.

Mr Stahl said fourth-quarter earnings would be hit by the need to load wholesalers with enough supplies of the drug and because Adderall XR is being priced at a 14 per cent discount to the older formulation.

"We don't want to create obstacles by making Adderall XR more expensive, even though it is the better drug," he said. "Once people are switched, there will be plenty of opportunity for implementing price corrections."

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