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Analyst Blog

Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc. recently announced its preliminary sales for the fourth quarter and full year 2012.

Optimer said that preliminary gross product sales of its only marketed product, Dificid (fidaxomicin), were $74.4 million in the US and Canada for the full year 2012 compared to $24.4 million in 2011. Dificid gross sales for the fourth quarter of 2012 were $21.3 million representing a sequential increase of more than 14.4%. Optimer mentioned that preliminary gross-to-net range for the last quarter of 2012 is expected to be 21.0%–21.5%.

Optimer recently (effective from January 3, 2013) increased Dificid’s wholesale acquisition cost by around 5.6%. Moreover, the company announced the launch of a Co-Pay Assistance Program for patients who are commercially insured.

Dificid was launched in the US in July 2011 for treating patients suffering from clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD) -- the most common form of nosocomial, or hospital acquired, diarrhea. We note that Optimer has an exclusive two-year agreement (through July 2013) with Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST - Analyst Report) to co-promote Dificid in the US for the treatment of CDAD.

Dificid was approved in the EU under the trade name, Dificlir, in December 2011 and was launched in Canada in June 2012.

We remind investors that in December 2012, Optimer collaborated with AstraZeneca (AZN - Analyst Report) to commercialize Dificid in South America including Brazil, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Our Recommendation

Optimer’s preliminary Dificid result looks encouraging. However, we remain concerned about Optimer’s dependence on a single product for growth.

Currently, we have a Neutral stance on Optimer in the long run. The company carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). However, other pharma stocks such as Cambrex Corporation (CBM - Snapshot Report) and Repligen Corporation (RGEN - Snapshot Report) carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Buy).

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