Hikma improves forecasts as company plans strong pharma push

The company saw 37 new products launched in the first half of this year

A Photo shows a part of developing and manufacturing pharmaceutical products at the labs of Hikma in Amman, Jordan. Hikma Pharmaceuticals is a fast growing multinational pharmaceutical group which was founded in 1978 in Jordan.  (Salah Malkawi for The National) *** Local Caption ***  SM_Hikma_078.jpg

London-listed drugmaker Hikma improved annual revenue forecasts for its generic and injectables businesses on Friday as its boss looks to transform the company into a speciality pharma business.

Hikma said it expected annual sales in its largest unit injectables in a range of $870 million to $900m, against a prior forecast of $850m to $900m.

The company, founded in Jordan in 1978, expects generics revenue in a range of $690m to $720m for the full year, compared with its earlier forecast of $650m to $700m.

The company said core earnings rose 14.3 per cent to $288m in the six months ended June 30 from a year earlier, helped by strong performances in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The upbeat forecast comes as chief executive Siggi Olafsson completes a year and a half at the helm and as generic drug launches have helped offset price erosion as the US administration clamps down on high medicine costs.

Hikma has in the past faced higher price pressures than the rest of the industry and had re-negotiated contracts with suppliers to cut costs.

"I think today the pricing pressure is a little less," said Mr Olafsson, though he added that pressure on prices would be a long-term theme for the industry.

Hikma saw 37 new products launched in the first half of this year and was on track to deliver seven to eight launches in generics in the US this year.

Hikma will also launch 15 products in its injectable business, which includes needle-based treatments for pain relief and cancer and which has been growing as it links with more manufacturing partners and signs more deals to produce copycat treatments.

Mr Olafsson sees Hikma changing from a generics company to a more speciality company focusing on drugs that are not a priority for big pharma, including antibiotics and medicines in the Middle East and North Africa region.

"I put out quite an aggressive guidance when I first joined the company .... I think we are getting very close to that," Mr Olafsson said. "In five years time, my goal would be to slowly transform the company into more of a speciality company."