San Diego-based Optimer Pharmaceuticals is new to this idea of being a commercial enterprise, but it did OK in its first quarter with an actual product to sell.
Optimer (NASDAQ: OPTR) said today it generated $10.6 million in net sales of fidaxomicin (Dificid) in the quarter that ended on Sept. 30. The drug, a treatment for dangerous “C.difficile” infections that people get in hospitals, was cleared for sale by the FDA on May 27, but Optimer didn’t actually begin selling the product until July 19. Through the end of September, Optimer said 535 hospitals ordered the product, and its sales reflect 4,335 treatments.
The company spent about $27 million on sales, general and administrative expenses during this product launch period, way above the $4.8 million in SG&A spending it recorded a year earlier, when it was still strictly an R&D operation. Optimer reported a net loss of $26.8 million in the quarter, or about 57 cents a share, which was about 6 cents more than analysts were expecting, according to briefing.com. Shares of Optimer fell 11 percent in after-hours trading.
But the trajectory of demand for the new antibiotic does look encouraging, and the early sales spike can’t be explained entirely by wholesalers stocking up inventory, which they commonly do for new products. Wholesalers shipped 884 treatments to pharmacies and long-term care facilities in August, and 1,400 treatments in September, Optimer said.
Optimer showed in clinical trials that its treatment cures patients about 90 percent of the time, offering a slight advantage over standard vancomycin. The trials, which followed patients for 30 days, showed that about half as many patients on the Optimer drug had a recurrence, when compared with those who got vancomycin.
Optimer has told analysts that it expects to turn profitable after about three years on the market, according to a Sept. 19 report by analyst Eun Yang of Jefferies & Co. Yang forecasted prior to the FDA approval that Optimer could reach $158 million in sales in 2015.
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