French mid-cap pharma Ipsen achieved total sales of EUR 2.869 billion in 2021, a 12.3 percent increase on results from the pandemic-affected 2020 total. The company also announced plans to divest its consumer healthcare business – which currently accounts for around eight percent of total revenues – to fellow French firm Mayoly Spindler for EUR 350 million.
Ipsen appointed David Loew as CEO in 2020 to implement a new strategy after a rare bone disease drug, palovarotene, acquired for EUR one billion along with its developer company, Clementia, saw regulatory hold-ups that led to share prices plunging and at one stage wiping out a full half of Ipsen’s market cap (EUR five billion).
However, Loew is convinced that the firm is in a much better position today. In a press release he said, “The strong results in 2021 are aligned with our strategic intent, with improving levels of commercial execution reflecting in excellent performances from every major brand. As the replenishment of our pipeline gathered pace, it was an exciting year for business development and our key clinical programs. Furthermore, sharpening our focus on Specialty Care, I am pleased that we have entered into exclusive negotiations to divest our Consumer Healthcare business.”
He continued, “We will continue to grow our business in 2022, and beyond, through our core and innovative brands as we manage the gradual erosion of Somatuline® while in addition, supporting growth through external innovation. Based on our strategy and our improved execution, we are pleased to update our mid-term outlook, underpinning the strength of Ipsen’s growth story built on our culture and an unrelenting focus on patients.”
M&A activity will be crucial to Ipsen’s innovation efforts and future growth, with seven external-innovation agreements completed in 2021, covering preclinical to late-stage clinical development across oncology, rare diseases, and neuroscience. Explaining the three elements to Ipsen’s partnering approach, the company’s Chief Business Officer Philippe Lopes-Fernandes recently outlined to PharmaBoardroom that “The first element is to know who we are, where we come from, and what we do well. In our case, we are an international company with a very clear focus on oncology, rare diseases and neuroscience.”
“The second is to identify the right deals for us. Ipsen selects deals not just on how excited we are about the potential of the science, but whether it is truly the right deal for the company. Can we take this program, internalize it, and work with the partner to truly maximise its potential? Is it a good fit with our capabilities? The answers must be yes for us to proceed.”
“The third is to find out how to do these deals. Within the company, this means strong internal collaboration with the R&D team. Human biology is incredibly complex. So, we need robust internal links with R&D to define our innovation approach and make it a success.
“However, the beauty of deal-making is that it needs collaboration across the entire organisation. Obviously, R&D is a critical piece, but the commercial, marketing, medical, market access, manufacturing, HR, IT, legal, and finance teams also need to work together towards a common goal of deciding if a deal is right for Ipsen and how we want to do it. I have introduced a move away from cookie-cutter deal-making by looking at a project and deciding how we can make it a success by adjusting the deal structure to the situation.”
Looking forward Ipsen is expecting more modest growth of two percent in 2022 and between four and six percent up to 2024, with R&D taking up a larger percentage of total revenues and a EUR 3.5 billion war chest set aside for further external innovation deals.