After posting a healthy set of financials for the first half of the year, and being mentioned by many as a takeover target, Actelion says its portfolio and pipeline mean that independence is the right path.

The Swiss drugmaker’s core operating income jumped 32% to 347 million Swiss francs, while sales climbed 12% to 993 million francs. The pulmonary arterial hypertension blockbuster Tracleer  (bosentan) was up 3% to 791 million francs, while its newly-launched follow-up PAH product, Opsumit (macitentan), contributed 53 million francs.

In the USA, reimbursement and formulary coverage has now been obtained with most healthcare insurers for Opsumit, Actelion noted, adding that it is doing well in Germany, Switzerland, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. Chief executive Jean-Paul Clozel told Reuters that “we are really very confident that Opsumit is not only going to be replacing but also topping Tracleer, but we must not be too impatient, it will take time," Clozel said

As for the Allschwil-based group’s other products, sales of Ventavis (iloprost), an inhaled therapy for the treatment of PAH, were up 10% to 58 million francs and its intravenous version Veletri reached 31 million francs, up from 14 million francs in the like, year-earlier period. Turnover of Zavesca (miglustat), for patients with Gaucher disease for whom enzyme replacement therapy is not a therapeutic option, rose 13% to 54 million francs.

Forecast raised

Actelion has raised its full-year profit forecast, saying they should increase at least in the mid-teen percentage range, compared with earlier guidance of low single-digit growth.

The results and promising late-stage candidates such as another PAH drug selexipag have led to rumours that Actelion could be taxen over, not least by US companies eyeing lower taxes. Dr Clozel told Bloomberg that no approaches have been made, adding that “for me it does not make sense to make a deal because of a tax ruling, because it’s just a short-term view”.

He told the news agency that “we have a fantastic pipeline which is not valued or very well known, which is because we didn’t really want to describe it up until now”. In his interview with Reuters, Dr Clozel added that “Actelion - having a reasonable size, a culture of innovation and science - has the best chance to grow in a healthy way as an independent company and this benefits the shareholders [who] are really supporting us in the present situation”.