Overactive bladder next Botox frontier

PHOTO: Overactive bladder next Botox frontier

NEW YORK - Overactive bladders later this year could become the next big frontier for Botox, the anti-wrinkle drug, and significantly boost sales of the US$1.5 billion-a-year product (S$1.82 billion), according to Allergan Inc Chief Executive David Pyott.

Allergan earlier on Wednesday reported profit growth for the second-quarter, fueled largely by sales of Botox to smooth wrinkles and for a growing range of medical uses.

Overactive bladder, caused by uncontrollable contractions of the bladder, causes frequent urination, urgent need to urinate and inability to control urination.

"Current drugs for overactive bladder just don't work that well," Pyott said in an interview, "and studies show that after a year 70 per cent of patients don't respond to treatment."

Standard treatments, pills called anticholinergics, including oxybutynin and GlaxoSmithKline PLC's Vesicare, are associated with dry mouth and can cause constipation and other side effects.

A single injection of Botox into the bladder can provide significant relief for up to nine months and significantly improve quality of life, Pyott said, particularly for adults who now need to wear diapers.

Pyott said he expects U.S. regulators this year to approve Botox for those whose overactive bladder is caused by multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, which together number about 350,000 patients in the United States.

Several years later, Allergan hopes to win approval to market it to a broader population of patients with overactive bladder.

Pyott declined to forecast sales of Botox for overactive bladder but said Wall Street analysts are projecting annual sales of up to US$500 million. "For a company with a revenue base of US$5.2 billion to US$5.4 billion, another $500 million franchise is kind of cool," he said.

Botox, whose active ingredient is a toxin that blocks nerve signals, gets about half its sales from reducing wrinkles and the rest from a number of medical uses, including treatment of migraine headaches and spasticity.

The product's second-quarter sales rose 16 per cent to US$418 million, helped by its recent approval to treat migraines and a somewhat stronger economy, which enabled more patients to pay out of pocket for cosmetic uses.

Allergan said on Wednesday that net income rose to $249 million, or 79 cents per share, from $241 million, or 78 cents per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Excluding special items, the company earned 96 cents per share. Analysts on average expected 95 cents, according to Thomson Reuters.

Sales rose almost 14 per cent to US$1.40 billion, topping Wall Street forecasts of US$1.34 billion. They would have increased 9.6 per cent if not for the weaker dollar, which drives up the value of sales in overseas markets.

"Strong top-line trends continue," JP Morgan analyst Chris Schott said in a research note, "and we expect these dynamics to continue throughout 2011."

Schott said Allergan boosted its 2011 overall sales forecast by $120 million to $170 million. But he noted the company reported higher-than-expected spending in the second quarter on sales, general and administrative expenses.

Sales of prescription eye medicines, by far the company's biggest business, rose 14 per cent to $658 million.

Sales of medical devices rose 12 per cent to US$245 million, fueled by demand for breast implants and dermal fillers.

But sales of the company's Lap Band product, to treat obesity, continued to decline, as did sales of the company's Latisse eyelash-growth product.

Allergan nudged up its full-year profit forecast to between US$3.59 and US$3.63 per share, excluding special items. It had previously expected US$3.56 to $3.62.

Allergan closed up 3.1 per cent at US$79.79 on the New York Stock Exchange.