Shire has posted another strong set of results for the first quarter, with its attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder treatments and rare disease drugs once again performing well.

Net income climbed nearly 13% to $238.4 million, while revenues increased 21% to $1.17 billion. Turnover was driven by the ADHD drug Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate), which soared 29% to $260.0 million, while sales of its off-patent predecessor Adderall XR (mixed amphetamine salts) were flat at $111.4 million. Another ADHD drug, Intuniv (guanfacine), had sales of $68.5 million (+63%).

Shire's rare diseases portfolio also fared well, with Replagal (agalsidase alfa) for Fabry disease up 28% to $134.4 million. Vpriv (velaglucerase alfa) for Gaucher's disease, brought in $71.7 million, up 22%. Both these treatments benefited from Sanofi-owned Genzyme Corp's manufacturing problems with its rival therapies Cerezyme (imiglucerase) and Fabrazyme (agalsidase beta). The Hunter Syndrome therapy Elaprase (idursulfase) rose 21% to $125.6 million.

As for Shire's other products, Pentasa (mesalamine) rose 2% to $65.8 million, and the firm’s newer ulcerative colitis drug Lialda/Mezavant brought in $90.0 million, up 3%. Dermagraft, a regenerative bio-engineered skin substitute for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, contributed $48.8 million, while Firazyr (icatibant injection), which was approved in the USA last August for hereditary angioedema, had sales of $19.7 million, a leap of 272%.

Chief executive Angus Russell said "we’ve made a strong start to the year and reiterate our expectation of good earnings growth in 2012". Full-year sales of Vyvanse are expected to top $1 billion and he made reference to positive Phase II data that has just come out for the drug as a treatment for binge eating disorders.

Mr Russell went on to say that "using our strong balance sheet, we’ve recently completed a number of acquisitions to add to the Phase II developments in our pipeline". These include "an exciting haematology asset", through the acquisition of FerroKin BioSciences, and a novel cell-based platform for its regenerative medicine business (bought from Pervasis Therapeutics).

Elan's Tysabri rises again

Meantime, another Ireland-headquartered firm, Elan Corp posted an increased net loss from continuing operations for the first quarter to $31.8 million from $27.7 million a year earlier. Sales rose 17% to $288.4 million, with pretty much all of that coming from Tysabri (natalizumab).

Global turnover of the multiple sclerosis blockbuster climbed 14% to $399.0 million, while Elan’s share of sales from the drug, which is marketed with Biogen Idec, reached $288.2 million, up from $245.2 million. At the end of March, some 64,600 patients were on Tysabri, up 13% on the same period a year earlier.