UCB, which is facing up to patent expiries on its anti-epileptic Keppra, says that its new products Cimzia, Vimpat and Neupro are making good progress.

The Belgian firm has issued an interim report for the first nine months of 2009, noting that revenues have declined as expected as a consequence of generic competition to Keppra (levetiracetam) in the USA. UCB gave no specific figures regarding its financial performance but said that Keppra continued to show double-digit percentage sales growth in Europe.

The company enjoyed similar growth for the antihistamine Zyrtec (cetirizine) in Japan and the drug’s follow-up Xyzal (levocetirizine) in the USA. Sales of the anti-tussive Tussionex (hydrocodonex and chlorpheniramine) declined due to the mild cough and cold season in the USA earlier in the year, while turnover of the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder treatment Metadate CD (methylphenidate) increased.

Chief executive Roch Doliveux noted that “while it is still early in the launch roll-out”, the three aforementioned new products have started well. Prescription data for Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) in the treatment of Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis in the USA are promising, UCB said, with a 20.2% and a 2.9% share respectively of new prescriptions in the subcutaneous anti- tumour necrosis factor market.

The company added that progress with reimbursement in the USA is also being made, with around 95% of insured people able to have Cimzia reimbursed for CD, and around 60% for RA. The drug was recently approved in Europe for the latter indication and patients were treated with Cimzia “the following day in Germany”. Other European countries are expected to launch in the coming months.

UCB also said that Vimpat (lacosamide), available in Europe since late 2008 and launched in the US in June this year as an add-on therapy for the treatment of partial-onset seizures, continues to gain market share. At the end of July, more than 15,000 patients were being treated with Vimpat in Europe and, at the end of September, more than 10,000 patients were using the drug across the Atlantic. The company added that “the prescription take-off by Vimpat in the USA exceeds that of Keppra and of Keppra XR making it the most successful launch in the US epilepsy market”.

UCB added that European neurologists have welcomed the return of Neupro (rotigotine) to the market after the firm overcame storage and distribution problems. The treatment, approved for Parkinson's disease and restless legs syndrome, is being used by more than 33,000 patients and UCB expects to be able to make Neupro available for US patients again during 2010.

UCB confirmed that it has now completed its SHAPE reorganisation programme, which led to the reduction of some 2,000 jobs. The company added that it will look for additional efficiencies and “optimise its non-core assets”.