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Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc. reported second quarter 2013 earnings per share, excluding the impact of a negative Medicaid adjustment, of $1.25, up 92.3% from the year-ago period. Earnings surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.13 per share. Including one time items, second quarter 2013 earnings were $1.12 per share.

Second quarter 2013 revenues climbed 64.1% to $184.6 million, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $168 million. Revenues consisted of $177 million from Acthar and the remaining from BioVectra. Excluding a one-time charge related to an incremental Medicaid rebate liability of $11.5 million, total revenues amounted to $196.1 million.Strong performance of H.P. Acthar Gel in the nephrotic syndrome (NS), dermatomyositis, polymyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis (MS) relapses and infantile spasms (IS) indications contributed to the massive growth. 

Acthar, an injectable drug, is the only marketed product at Questcor. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for as many as 19 indications. The company shipped 7,050 vials of Acthar during the second quarter of 2013, up 50% year over year and 46% sequentially.

In the reported quarter, Acthar’s new paid prescriptions were about 2,250 to 2,275, up 35% year over year.

In the second quarter of 2013, research and development (R&D) expenses were $12.2 million, up 44.3%. The increase was attributable to the company’s efforts to develop its pipeline. In the reported quarter, general and administrative expenses were $13.1 million, up 51.8% and selling and marketing expenses were $37.9 million, up 37.3%.

Acthar is currently under evaluation for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (phase II), diabetic nephropathy (phase II), idiopathic membranous nephropathy (phase IV), lupus (phase IV) and lupus exacerbations (investigator-initiated study).

Questcor acquired development and commercialization rights to Synacthen and Synacthen Depot from Novartis AG (NVS - Analyst Report) in Jun 2013.

Our Take

This was a strong quarter for Questcor with demand for Acthar rising mainly because of expanded commercialization efforts. Questcor’s efforts to educate rheumatologists about Acthar also improved revenues. The purchase of Synacthen and Synacthen Depot rights along with the acquisition of BioVectera Inc. completed earlier this year provides Questcor an opportunity for international expansion and diversification of revenues. Moreover, the FDA approval of Synacthen would consolidate Questcor’s presence in the U.S.

Questcor carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Currently, companies like Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (AVNR - Snapshot Report) and Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Inc. (AUXL - Analyst Report) look more attractive with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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