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Lundbeck banks on key drugs to offset patent expiration

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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -Danish drugmaker Lundbeck expects a pickup in demand for its main drugs, including a new migraine treatment, to underpin revenue this year after strong sales in the first quarter offset generic competition for one of its top-selling drugs.

Lundbeck has battled declining sales in the past years due to generic competition, most recently in February when it lost exclusivity on its key Northera drug, used to treat disorders caused by an underlying neurological disease.

The Copenhagen-based company, which specialises in making drugs to treat brain diseases, now expects sales of Northera to drop by 70% this year, up from an earlier estimate of 50%, due to larger-than-expected price pressure from new copy drugs.

“We maintained our guidance because we had good sales in the first quarter. But it is clear that it puts more pressure on us, we need to run a little bit faster in the rest of the year,” Chief Financial Officer Anders Gotzsche told Reuters on Tuesday.

Lundbeck reported first quarter sales slightly above expectations, saying patients were returning to more normal consumer patterns seen before the coronavirus pandemic.

Currency depreciation had accounted for a 4% negative impact on sales growth, it said.

Shares in Lundbeck traded up 3% at 0723 GMT in an otherwise weak Copenhagen blue chip index.

Sales of the company’s strategic drugs rose by 8% in the first quarter, Gotzsche said, calling it a “solid” start to the year. He expects double-digit growth for those brands in the second half of 2021.

Lundbeck’s newest drug, Vyepti, which is used to treat migraine patients, generated 76 million Danish crowns ($12.41 million) in sales, but Gotzsche said he expected that number to rise to 500 million crowns this year.

“We will accelerate sales and growth this year,” he said, adding that Vyepti will be launched in six markets during 2021.

($1 = 6.1258 Danish crowns)

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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