UCB has posted a healthy set of financials for the first nine months of the year, with newer products softening a decline in sales of the antiepileptic Keppra.

Revenues increased 5% to 2.57 billion euros (but flat at constant exchange rates), while sales of Keppra (levetiracetam) sales fell 13% to 652 million euros, hit by generic competition in USA and Europe. However, the drug sold well in the rest of the world, notably Japan.

Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease had sales of 334 million euros, up 51%, while the antiepileptic Vimpat (lacosamide) brought in 237 million euros, an increase of 54%. Sales of the Neupro (rotigotine) patch for Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome rose 33% to 93 million euros.

Chief executive Roch Doliveux (pictured) said that UCB "has now reached the inflection point where net sales of our new core medicines are higher than those of the Keppra franchise – the 'cross-over'." He added that "this performance confirms our ambition to reach more than 1.5 million patients with Cimzia, Vimpat and Neupro, with a combined peak sales target of at least 3.1 billio euros in the second half of this decade".

Seeking partner for olokizumab

In terms of pipeline, UCB also revealed that it will not progress  olokizumab in rheumatoid arthritis into Phase III and is now exploring options for the humanised monoclonal antibody which targets the IL-6 cytokine, including partnering.

In September, UCB announced top-line Phase II results which showed that olokizumab showed a significant reduction in disease activity at week 12. However, the current data "do not suggest sufficient differentiation potential" versus Roche's RoActemra/Actemra (tocilizumab).