Shire Pharmaceuticals will be celebrating a stellar set of results for 2010 after achieving record sales on solid growth of its core products despite a difficult economic climate.

The group's sales for the year smashed through the $3 billion mark for the first time, as turnover of its core products (excluding ADHD veteran drug Adderall XR [mixed amphetamine salts]) leapt 34%, and some of its drugs for rare diseases benefitted from manufacturing problems at rival drugmaker Genzyme's plant. 

On the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder side, Intuniv (guanfacine) sales hit $166 million in the first full year on the market while Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate) grew 26% to $634 million. 

The firm's rare diseases portfolio also fared particularly well, with Replagal (agalsidase alfa) for Fabry disease rocketing 81% to $351 million, Vpriv (velaglucerase alfa), for Gaucher's disease, pulling in $143 million in its first year, and Hunter Syndrome therapy Elaprase (idursulfase) generating a 14% rise to $404 million.

The strong sales performance helped the group post a 20% leap in (non-GAAP) operating income to $1.07 billion, as well as a 48% leap in cash generation to $1.4 billion, which helped Shire invest significantly in its business, through the acquisition of Belgian group Movetis in November, for example.

"Shire has had a great year. With a young and balanced portfolio and a strong pipeline, we look forward to continuing this success as we build on the strength of our business model and plan for further good growth in the year ahead", said the firm's chief executive Angus Russel.

Sales growth level

Following an on-target fourth quarter, the group evidently remains confident about the year ahead, forecasting that total product sales growth for 2011 will stay roughly in line with that achieved last year.

For the fourth quarter, product sales jumped a respectable 10% to $851 million, as core products continued to perform well, particularly: Vyvanse, up 25% to $181 million; Replagal, +80% to $109 million, Lialda/Mezavant (mesazalamine), +27% to $84 million; and recently launched products Intuniv, up $38 million to $43 million, and Vpriv, up $57 million to $59 million. 

On a slightly sour note, operating income dropped $74 million, or 24%, to $239 million, but after taking some extraordinary items out of the equation the result remained constant in 2010, as gross profit growth was countered by higher R&D and SG&A expenses, the company said.