(Reuters) - Drugmaker Indivior Plc said on Thursday its full-year operating profit rose largely due to cost cuts even as it braces for the launch of cheaper copies of its blockbuster drug Suboxone after a long patent battle in U.S. courts.
The company this week lost the latest leg of its battle to delay the launch of generic versions of the film-based opioid addiction drug. It said operating profit jumped 51 percent to $292 million (227 million pounds) in 2018, while net revenue fell 8 percent to $1.01 billion.
Indivior said it expects net revenue of between $50 million and $70 million in 2019 from its long-lasting Sublocade injection. Jefferies analysts said the guidance was ahead of their estimates.
Indivior said it would not be able to forecast revenue and net income for 2019, given uncertainties around how the U.S. market for both Suboxone and generic alternatives will ultimately develop.
The United States, which accounts for 80 percent of Indivior's revenue, faces an opioid abuse epidemic that President Donald Trump has declared a public health emergency, signalling a big opportunity for Indivior's newer opioid addiction treatments and Suboxone, which generates the bulk of its revenue.
Indivior, however, has spent over two years fighting several legal battles and patent disputes to fend off generic rivals to Suboxone and has also faced some regulatory hiccups.
The company has said it faces potentially severe losses in market share in the immediate future to copycat products from India's Dr. Reddy's Laboratories and Alvogen Pine Brook, which would also open doors for other copycats to follow suit.
Indivior has put in place a multi-phase contingency plan to fight generic competitors to Suboxone, which includes launching its own generic version to undercut losses and hold a minimum cash balance of $250 million to comply with its debt covenants.
The company is also looking to its schizophrenia treatment Perseris to move away from the Suboxone film. Commercial launch of the treatment will take place in the week of Feb.18, it said.
(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)