Hikma warns sales will be lower after delay to asthma drug launch

Young Asthma patient using an inhaler.
Young Asthma patient using an inhaler. Credit: Peter Titmuss / Alamy Stock Photo

Drug maker Hikma has cut its full-year revenue forecasts after its plan to launch a cheap copy of a top-selling asthma drug this year hit a major roadblock. 

The FTSE 100 company was forced to lower estimates for its generics unit by $130m on Friday - bringing overall revenue forecasts down as much as 9pc - after a US regulator blocked its application to launch a copycat version of GlaxoSmithKline's asthma drug Advair. 

Hikma's shares dropped more than 5pc on Friday, while shares in Glaxo - which is likely to see sales of the drug tumble if rivals launch cheaper versions - inched up. 

Hikma's trading update comes a week after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dashed its hopes of bringing  the drug to market this year, concluding that there were 'major' issues with its application. 

"We are in the process of reviewing the response and will provide an update on our application as soon as practicable," Hikma said on Friday, indicating that the launch will not happen in 2017. 

That will come as a blow to chief executive Said Darwazah, who was confident that the drug would go to market this year in a move that would have pushed revenues in its generic arm up 15pc.

He struck an upbeat tone in March, just before a US rival had its own application to launch a copy of the drug blocked, when he said "the team is comfortable with the submission and optimistic we’ll get approval". 

The Jordan-based business is working with inhaler maker Vectura on the project, with the pair racing against rivals such as Mylan to get the substitute drug to market.  

For Glaxo, which lost its exclusive rights over Advair in 2010 when the patent expired, another year without competition will be a relief - had the application been approved US sales at the business could have fallen from £1.8bn in 2016 to £1bn this year. 

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