Belgian pharma firm boosted by US judge ruling

Billy Bambrough
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Britain Sees Rise In Demand For Legal Highs
Sales of the drug make up almost a fifth of UCB's profit (Source: Getty)

Shares in Brussels-based drugmaker UCB surged yesterday following a US ruling that blocks rival firms from making generic versions of its epilepsy drug Vimpat.

Shares closed up by almost nine per cent in Brussels – its best performance since 2009 – and also giving a shot in the arm to other pharmaceutical stocks around Europe.

Vimpat is one of UCB’s best selling drugs. Sales totalled €679m (£590m) last year, of which about three quarters came from the US.

It makes up around 18 per cent of the company’s revenue.

“We are pleased with Delaware chief judge Stark’s decision,” said Anna Richo, executive vice president and general counsel at UCB.

The legal challenge was brought by generic-drug makers who had ques- tioned the validity of UCB’s patent for the drug, which is due to expire in 2022.

UCB’s shares were down around 17 per cent so far this year ahead of the ruling.

Citigroup analysts called the ruling a “long-awaited sentiment boost,” in a note to clients and they now “expect market confidence to improve”.

Last month, Cambridge-based AstraZeneca was dealt a blow in the US when the Food and Drug Administration approved generic versions of Astra’s blockbuster cholesterol-lowering pill Crestor.

The decision followed months of lobbying by Astra to stop cheaper versions of the drug from reaching pharmacy shelves.

It’s thought the price of the drug – which retails for around $260 a month – could drop by as much as 90 per cent once the generics come on to the market.

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