Alkermes downgraded on concerns about ability to compete in crowded markets

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

Manufacturing site in Gainesville, GA that Alkermes sold to Recro last month
Manufacturing site in Gainesville, GA that Alkermes sold to Recro last month

Related tags: Central nervous system

Alkermes has been downgraded by analysts who say the success of its decision to focus on own-brand products and sell its legacy CMO site hinges on its ability to win in already competitive markets.

Ireland-based Alkermes announced its intention to focus on its pipeline of central nervous system (CNS) disorder drugs last month to coincide with the sale of its contract manufacturing facility in Gainesville, Georgia, US to Recro Pharma.

The $50m facility divestiture deal​ also saw Alkermes sell Recro worldwide rights to its Phase III long acting pain drug IV/IM meloxicam in return for a potential $120m in milestone payments as well as future sales royalties.

Alkermes employed 165 staff at the site, which was acquired in 2011 when the firm bought Elan’s drug technologies business​.

CFO James Frates said: “With this transaction, we [Alkermes] are capturing value from non-core assets, as we continue to execute on our strategy and focus on the key driver of our future growth – our late-stage pipeline of innovative medicines for central nervous system diseases.”

Analyst comments

Alkermes’ strategy of focusing on late-stage pipeline assets like aripiprazole lauroxil, ALKS 5461, ALKS 3831, ALKS 8700 has been subject of debate among financial analysts.

Citi, for example, downgraded Alkermes from Buy to Neutral on March 27 and said each of the firm’s pipeline candidates “will be launching into markets with additional branded and/or generic competitors​” according to a Benzinga​ report.

This echoed earlier comments by David Risinger from Morgan Stanley​ who downgraded Alkermes from equal-weight to underweight on March 12, citing “expectations for weak lauroxil launch plus risk of Ampyra going generic sooner than expected​” as motivations.

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