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Genzyme expects shortages of two drugs to end by 2010

By Alex Nussbaum
Bloomberg News / September 24, 2009

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NEW YORK - Genzyme Corp. has cut its 2009 sales forecast for Fabrazyme, a treatment for a rare genetic disorder, and said it expects to correct shortages of the drug and of Cerezyme, its top-selling product, by next year.

Genzyme said it has successfully restarted its Allston Landing plant in Boston, which was closed by viral contamination in June, but initial supplies of Fabrazyme will be “lower than anticipated.’’

The Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company still expects to meet worldwide demand for both medicines by the first quarter of 2010, it said yesterday.

Genzyme started rationing Cerezyme, used for Gaucher disease, and Fabrazyme, for Fabry disease, after discovering the virus. Cerezyme generated $1.24 billion last year, 27 percent of total revenue. Fabrazyme was Genzyme’s third-biggest drug, generating $494 million, or about 11 percent of sales.

“We have reached a point in this process where we can anticipate with greater confidence the timing and amount of the first finished product to be shipped from the Allston plant,’’ Henri A. Termeer, Genzyme’s chairman and chief executive, said in a prepared statement.

Genzyme said it expects 2009 Fabrazyme sales of about $450 million, down from its earlier forecast of $510 million to $520 million. Cerezyme sales will be about $800 million, narrower than the prior forecast of $750 million to $1 billion.

Genzyme’s shares fell 51 cents to $56.49 yesterday. They have lost 15 percent this year.

Fabrazyme production was delayed partly for preventive maintenance and for sanitizing the Boston plant, the company said. Genzyme said it is asking patients and doctors to continue conserving their supplies of the drug.

If the restart of the plant continues as planned, Genzyme expects newly produced Cerezyme to be available in November and December, and new Fabrazyme in mid-December, the company’s statement said.

Gaucher and Fabry disease are inherited disorders caused by low levels of certain enzymes needed to break down fatty substances.