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Alexions Soliris gets new, and lucrative, rare disease indication.

June 28, 2019 / Richard Staines

Alexion’s rare disease drug Soliris has a new indication after the FDA approved it for a disease that attacks the optic nerves.Approval of Soliris (eculizumab) for  neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) in adults who have the anti-aquaporin-4 antibody opens up further revenues for Alexion, which has already built a blockbuster franchise around the drug. Although only approved in a handful of rare diseases, the complement-inhibiting drug generated $962 million for Alexion in Q1 alone, up from $800 million in the previous year’s Q1. Although the disease only affects between 4,000-8,000 patients in the US, at the prices Alexion charges this could generate significant revenues. Dosage varies according to a patient’s weight but it’s estimated to cost around $400,000 per patient annually. First approved in 2007 for paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria, Soliris is threatened by the possibility of biosimilar competition as its US patent expires in March 20...