RETROVIR U.S. SALES SURPASS $100 MIL. IN FISCAL 1988, WELLCOME PLC DISCLOSES IN PRELIMINARY ANNUAL REPORT; ZOVIRAX IS TOP-SELLING DRUG WITH SALES OF $365 MIL.
Retrovir (zidovudine) sales in the U.S. reached $113 mil. in fiscal 1988, Wellcome PLC reported in a recently issued preliminary annual report for the 12 months ended Aug. 31. Wellcome markets Retrovir in the U.S. through its Burroughs Wellcome subsidiary. Defending the patient cost of Retrovir, Wellcome noted that the prolonged, six times daily 200 mg dose is "unusual" among drugs for treating infectious diseases. However, the company noted that it "now seems likely that the average daily dose being taken by a large proportion of patients is somewhat less than 1 gm, compared to the currently recommended dosage of 1.2 gm." Combined with last year's 20% price cut in the U.S. due to manufacturing efficiencies, "this means that the average effective cost of Retrovir treatment is now probably no more than two-thirds what it was a year ago," Wellcome stated. With the majority of reported AIDS cases, the U.S. accounted for the bulk of Retrovir sales. Worldwide, Retrovir volume was about $152 mil. in fiscal 1988, the product's first full year on the market. Wellcome's largest product in fiscal 1988 was Zovirax (acyclovir), an antiviral indicated for the treatment of genital herpes, with worldwide sales of approximately $365 mil., up 35%. Retrovir and Zovirax accounted for 20% of the company's health care sales in FY 1988. "Growth was strong in continental Europe, where it increased by 53%, and in the U.S., where it increased by more than 40% in local currency terms," Wellcome said. The company currently awaits FDA approval of Zovirax for treatment of shingles, another form of herpes infection for which the product has been licensed in the U.K. for more than a year. Also pending at FDA is an NDA for Duact, an acrivastine/pseudoephedrine combination product for treatment of allergic rhinitis and urticaria. A product containing only acrivastine was recently approved in the U.K., where it is being marketed under the Semprex brand. In the muscle relaxant area, Wellcome is looking to build on Tracrium (atracurium), which is used in intermediate length surgical procedures. The company reported that clinical studies have now been completed on two new neuromuscular blocking agents, doxacurium and mivacurium. Wellcome noted that work continues on the anticonvulsant drug lamotrigine, a potential treatment of epilepsy. Further back in the pipeline are "a number of anti-cancer agents," the report notes. Approximately 42%, or over $750 mil., of corporate sales and 60%, or about $225 mil., of operating income were generated in North America, primarily in the U.S., the company said. Overall, sales were up 10% in fiscal 1988 to about $1.8 bil., while operating income jumped 31% to almost $375 mil. Table or Chart Omitted
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