In growth mode
“We continue to expand our strong franchise in the iron deficiency market.”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the start of the year we set ourselves ambitious goals for 2015 as we strive to make Vifor Pharma a highly competitive global specialty pharmaceutical company. These goals include: accelerating market penetration with our key growth drivers, particularly Ferinject® and Velphoro®; preparing the organisation for its future as an independent company; and reinforcing our portfolio by adding complementary products through in-licensing.
Over the past twelve months we have made substantial progress in achieving these goals. With our existing portfolio, we are clearly poised for strong growth with Ferinject®, a remarkable product that combines excellent patient outcomes with a differentiated profile. Ferinject® is instrumental in the success of our iron business, showing rapid growth in key geographies, including the important US market. The acceleration of the already high growth performance of Ferinject® in 2015 was very encouraging, although given the still very unsaturated market this is still early days and much remains to be done. Global sales of Ferinject® (US brand name Injectafer®) generated by Vifor Pharma affiliates and our partners totalled CHF 250.9 million (+33.2 %).
investments in research & development (CHF)
The roll-out of our new phosphate binder Velphoro® in the USA and major European markets continues to drive our expansion in the broader nephrology market. With a substantially lower pill burden compared to the current standard treatment of hyperphosphatemia in chronic kidney disease (CKD), Velphoro® is being well received by patients and clinicians around the world. Confirming our expectations, we generated increased revenues of 190.6 % to CHF 43.2 million with Velphoro®.
These advances, and the positive contribution from other business activities of Vifor Pharma, resulted in a net sales increase of 36.9 % to CHF 967.0 million in 2015. Vifor Pharma’s revenues also include the first sales income of CHF 206.8 million from the commercialisation of Roche’s medication Mircera® in the USA. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) increased by 25.7 % to CHF 333.0 million.
We continued to prepare the organisation for its future as a stand-alone business, making progress in terms of structure, governance and processes. Furthermore, Vifor Pharma sharpened its specialty pharma profile by moving Vifor Consumer Health to Galenica Santé, and by selling Potters, the UK-based manufacturer and supplier of traditional herbal treatments, to Soho Flordis International.
In addition to focusing on expanding our leadership in the iron deficiency market and growing the overall market through optimising the performance of existing products, we have also prioritised finding inorganic growth opportunities within this and adjacent markets. In the first half of 2015 we signed an exclusive licensing agreement for the commercialisation of Roche’s drug Mircera® in the USA and Puerto Rico. Mircera® is a perfect complement to our existing range of products for patients with CKD and iron deficiency. This was followed in the second half of 2015 by the announcement of an exclusive partnership between Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma (VFMCRP) and the US company Relypsa to commercialise the potassium binder Patiromer FOS in all markets outside the USA and Japan. This is a highly promising new treatment for elevated levels of potassium in the blood. Hyperkalaemia occurs more frequently in patients with CKD and heart failure.
Both Mircera® and Patiromer FOS are managed by our common company with Fresenius Medical Care, VFMCRP, which is destined to become an even stronger partner to the nephrology community. In 2015, VFMCRP has not only expanded its nephrology product portfolio but also established its own sales and marketing organisation in Europe. In Europe’s key markets, VFMCRP took over the commercialisation of some of the best known nephrology brands from Fresenius Medical Care. These developments contribute to making VFMCRP even more competitive in meeting the very specific needs of patients and customers in the highly specialised field of nephrology.
We have also been able to make further progress in our efforts to improve organisational efficiency and profitability, enabling us to better invest in strong, sustainable growth and to attract investors in a very competitive market. As we approach independence, we continue to be focused on increasing our operational effectiveness and efficiency and directing our investments and resources towards the most attractive growth opportunities.
The two pillars of our future success as an independent business are our products and our people. With a differentiated and young product portfolio, growing recognition in our chosen markets for our unique capabilities and leadership, and the entrepreneurial spirit and dedication of our employees, I am confident that our prospects have never been brighter. Let me thank all employees of Vifor Pharma and Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma for their contribution to making 2015 a very successful year.