Esperion Therapeutics ( ESPR Quick Quote ESPR - Free Report) announced preliminary sales numbers for fourth-quarter 2020. Notably, the company’s expectation for the quarter looks gloomy. Alongside, the company also provided guidance for operating expense in 2021 and announced an agreement with privately-held Serometrix for expanding its pipeline.
The company estimates its fourth-quarter net product revenues to be between $8 million and $8.5 million in the United States. Please note that the company’s two cardiovascular drugs — Nexletol (bempedoic acid monotherapy) and Nexlizet [bempedoic acid +
Merck’s ( MRK Quick Quote MRK - Free Report) Zetia] — were approved in February 2020 in the United States. Although estimated sales reflected almost 140% sequential growth, it seems significantly lower than market expectation.
Esperion’s shares declined 11.1% on Jan 13, following the preliminary result announcement. In fact, the stock has declined 54.1% in the past year compared with the
industry’s 1.8% decrease.
We note that Esperion’s FDA-approved drugs are also approved in Europe for similar indication. The company has an agreement with Daiichi Sankyo Europe for commercializing the drug in the territory. Esperion will earn royalties on any potential sales in Europe.
During the third quarter of 2020, the company’s net product revenues were $3.3 million, reflecting sequential script growth of more than 500% for both drugs on the back of high-quality and broad managed care coverage in the United States. However, product sales growth was partially hurt due to significantly fewer patient visits to primary care physicians amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic may have affected sales during the fourth quarter as well.
The company anticipates operating expenses to be in the range of approximately $320 million to $340 million in 2021. This appears almost flat to guided total operating expense range for 2020, which includes R&D expense of $135-$145 million and SG&A expense of $200-$210 million.
Meanwhile, the company in-licensed an oral PCSK9 inhibitor program from Serometrix for an upfront payment of $12.5 million. Following the approval of its now commercialized drugs, the company had no pipeline candidates. A successful development of the candidate will boost its cardiovascular portfolio of drugs. Currently, there are two FDA-approved PCSK9 inhibitor — Regeneron/
Sanofi’s ( SNY Quick Quote SNY - Free Report) Praulent and Amgen’s ( AMGN Quick Quote AMGN - Free Report) Repatha — which are administered subcutaneously. An oral PCSK9 inhibitor will provide patients another option with convenient administration for lowering bad cholesterol.
Esperion plans to develop Serometrix’s PCSK9 inhibitor as monotherapy as well as in combination with bempedoic acid. The company will update on potential submission for an investigation new drug application to begin clinical studies on the PCSK9 inhibitor program later this year.
Esperion currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).
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