Fresh from announcing a major licensing deal with Isis Pharmaceuticals, Genzyme Corp has taken the opportunity of the JPMorgan investor conference in San Francisco to give details of its strong sales growth in 2007.

The firm noted that fourth-quarter revenues rose 21% to $1.04 billion, above analysts’ expectations, while for the full year, they climbed 20% to $3.8 billion. The rise was due to Genzyme’s four enzyme replacement therapies, the newest of which, the Pompe disease drug Myozyme (alglucosidase alfa), saw quarterly sales more than double to $62 million.

The more-established Cerezyme (imiglucerase), for Gaucher disease, was up 15% to $301 million, while fourth-quarter sales of Fabry disease therapy Fabrazyme (agalsidase beta) were up 18% to $114 million. Revenues from Aldurazyme (laronidase), used to treat the rare genetic disease mucopolysaccharidosis I, reached $34 million, compared with $26 million in the same quarter a year ago.

Kidney treatments to hit $1 billion in sales
However there is more to the Genzyme success story than these lysosomal storage disorder drugs. Its renal franchise is on track to generate more than $1 billion annually by 2011, driven by Renagel (sevelamer HCl), which treats end-stage kidney disease, and climbed 23% to $167 million. Renvela (sevelamer carbonate), a next-generation version of Renagel, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in October for the treatment of haemodialysis patients, and Genzyme expects to launch the product this quarter.

Genzyme’s biosurgery unit is also expecting annual sales approaching $1 billion by 2011, while its transplant franchise should contribute nearly $500 million a year by then. Turnover will be driven by the anticipated introduction of Mozobil (plerixafor) and the planned global expansion of Thymoglobulin (anti-thymocyte globulin [rabbit]), which is used to treat acute rejection in organ transplant patients and rose 12% in the fourth quarter to $44 million.

Oncology is another franchise expected to generate $500 million annually by 2011, driven by Clolar (clofarabine) as a first-line therapy for adult acute myeloid leukaemia and the use of Campath (alemtuzumab), partnered with Bayer, as a first-line treatment for B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Genzyme's genetics operations should bring in another $500 million, the firm claimed, noting that this business “is also playing an important role in the development of personalised medicine tests”.

The company's pipeline includes more than 25 Phase II trials “and several major pivotal studies”. It is particularly excited about the licensing deal that has just been signed for Isis’ new lipid-lowerer mipomersen, which is in Phase III. Its initial indication will be for patients with familial hypercholesterolemia, followed by a possible filing for patients with high cholesterol at high risk of cardiovascular events, a much larger and indeed more lucrative population.

Speaking at the conference, Genzyme chief executive Henri Termeer, said that “we are on track to deliver 20% earnings growth through 2011, and we feel bullish as we look ahead at the picture that is unfolding”.