South Korea’s leading biopharmaceutical company Celltrion Inc. reported a 23.74 percent rise in its operating profit for the third quarter ended September from the previous quarter, thanks to sales increase in Europe and the United States ahead the launch of new products.
Celltrion said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday that it raised 103.1 billion won ($89.1 million) in operating profit on a consolidated basis in the July-September period, up 23.6 percent from the previous quarter and 40.1 percent from the same period a year ago. Sales totaled 289.1 billion won, up 23 percent on quarter and 25.1 percent on year. Net profit fell 21.33 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter to 61.6 billion won but was up 12.69 percent from a year ago.
Shares of Celltrion traded 0.51 percent higher at 197,500 won at 9:21 a.m. on Thursday.
Celltrion attributed stellar third-quarter performance to a rise in sales of products across the board, in particular in Europe ahead of the early launch of new drug Remsima SC, a subcutaneous injection type of antibody biosimilar Remsima, as well as in the U.S. ahead of the launch of blood cancer treatment Truxima.
Unlike Remsima – in which patients need to stay hours in a hospital to receive intravenous injection – Remsima SC can be directly injected beneath the skin at home, enhancing overall convenience.
Celltrion applied for approval of the new antibody drug from European Medicines Agency (EMA) under the bio-better category which is between a biosimilar or copy drug and new drug, and received positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the EMA for the subcutaneous-type Remsima in September. Celltrion expects to receive final approval for Remsima SC from EMA this year.
Remsima and Truxima
The reference medicine, or original drug for Remsima, is Remicade marketed by Janssen under U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson. The drug is used to treat inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
Celltrion is also expected to begin the sale of Truxima in the U.S. this year after receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration in November last year. Truxima, a biosimilar to Rituxan, has already expanded market share in Europe after its release in April 2017 thanks to its cheaper price tag.
Celltrion earlier revealed an aggressive goal to release at least one biosimilar every year until 2030 to become a global top-tier player in terms of portfolio and sales growth.
The biopharmaceutical company is currently engaged in global clinical trials for CT-P16, a colorectal cancer treatment and an Avastin biosimilar; CT-P17, an autoimmune disease treatment and Humira biosimilar; and CT-P39, an asthma treatment and Xolair biosimilar. The company is also in the process of developing cell strains and processing of more than 15 biosimilar products.
By Lee Eun-joo
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