Human Genome Sciences says it expects "multi-billion dollar annual revenues by 2015" on the back of a successful launch for the investigational lupus drug Benlysta.

Speaking at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. chief executive Thomas Watkins said 2011 will be "a game-changing year for us assuming approval and launch of Benlysta (belimumab) as the first new drug for lupus in over 50 years. In November, the US Food and Drug Administration's Arthritis Advisory Committee voted 13-2 to recommend approval but also requested additional information, which the company has submitted.

Last month, the FDA extended the Prescription Drug User Fee Act target date for the priority review of Benlysta to March 10, and HGS says it is ready to go. Mr Watkins claimed that the firm has "systematically hired and carefully trained a specialised commercial team that we believe is second to none in their experience and familiarity with rheumatology, biologics and infused products". He added that "we are ready to hit the ground running" alongside partner GlaxoSmithKline.

Mr Watkins went on to say Benlysta is being developed for other B-cell mediated diseases.This year,  Phase II trials will be initiated in vasculitis and post-renal transplant, as well as a Phase III study of a subcutaneous formulation of the drug.

He concluded by saying that HGS will continue to "invest strategically in its oncology and other pipeline opportunities".