Alexion Pharmaceuticals

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Alexion Pharmaceuticals
Type Public
Traded as

S&P 500 Component
Industry Pharmaceutical
Founded 1992
Headquarters Cheshire, Connecticut, U.S.
Key people Max E. Link (Chairman)
Leonard Bell (CEO)
Products Eculizumab
Revenue US$ 1151.346 million (2013)
Operating income US$ 528.010 mil (2013)Increase31%[1]
Net income US$ 252.895 mil (2013)Steady[1]
Total assets US$ 3.317696 bil (2013)Increase27%[1]
Total equity US$ 2.382079 bil (2013)Increase21%[1]
Employees 1774 (December 2013)[1]

Alexion Pharmaceuticals is the original developer and distributor of Soliris, a drug used to treat the rare disorders atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) and Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH).[2][3]

The company is also involved in research with regards to the immune system and how it can be stopped from attacking healthy tissue (done by inhibiting terminal complements).

Soliris, the company's sole marketed drug, has been approved for use in the EU and Japan however availability in other places such as the USA and Canada is limited due to marketing restrictions and lack of ensured access (in Canada access to the drug is mostly through private clinics though groups like the Canadian Association of PNH Patients are lobbying to change that).[4]

In 2013 36% of sales originated in the US down from 37%, with 33% coming from Europe down from 35%; Japan accounts for just over 10%. In 2013 revenue was impacted by higher unit volumes for Soliris (up 40%), and a negative price impact (-2%) related to rebates in Europe; acquisition related costs fell significantly from $22 million to just $5 million.[1] In 2011 50% of the increase in assets came from cash and cash equivalents, the value of which has since gone down since part of it was spent on acquiring Enobia. In the last quarter, R&D spending was higher due to expansion of development programs while net sales of Soliris increased 45% to $227.6 million on account of new international patients with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.[5] By September 2013 quarterly sales of Soliris topped $400 million.


Founded in 1992 in New Haven, Connecticut (at a place called Science Park). In 2000 it paid USD 41 million in Alexion stock for Proliferon Inc., a San Diego, California based development-stage biopharmaceutical firm that has since been renamed Alexion Antibody Technologies Inc. Alexion CEO at the time (Leonard Bell) cited Proliferon's ability to produce an 'unlimited amount of antibodies' as the reason for the acquisition. At the time Proliferon's annual revenue was about $2.5 million and its assets were valued at $2.1 million[6][7] Also that year Alexion moved its headquarters from New Haven to Cheshire, Connecticut. Since 2006 Alexion has been a supporter of Healthcare Research and Quality studies at Duke University for aspirin and Plavix; R&D spending reached a record high of $317 million in 2013 up 83% on the year.[8]

On April 4, 2011 Alexion was added to the Nasdaq-100, a group composed of the 100 largest non-financial stocks traded on the Nasdaq; with a market value of USD 8.5 billion it replaced Genzyme Corporation.[9]

On December 29, 2011 Alexion acquired Montreal based Enobia Pharma Corp for $610 million and another $470 million to be paid later on contingent on company sales and regulatory goals.[10] The $610 million includes $300 million in bank debt. Enobia is the developer of asfotase alpha, a drug used to treat the genetic disorder hypophosphatasia.

Alexion donates Soliris to German E coli patients[edit]

In Germany, the Shiga toxin producing hemolytic-uremic syndrome, caused by the E coli infection EHEC which leads to blood infection induced kidney failure, reached epidemic proportions in 2010. Initially, Soliris was considered a treatment option due to its effectiveness in treating atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, an illness similar to the specific type of E coli afflicting people in Germany. Alexion's German subsidiary has been providing those patients with Soliris free of charge.[11]

Soliris receives FDA approval[edit]

On September 23, 2011 it was announced that the US Food and Drug Administration officially approved the use of Soliris as a treatment for atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome in both adults and children. More than half of people with aHUS end up dying of it as a result of damage to vital organs/organ failure (usually involving the kidneys) caused by uncontrolled complement activation. The FDA's decision to grant approval received a positive response from the medical community with the director of Pediatric Nephrology at Atlanta's Children's hospital calling it "the most important advance that has been made for patients and families with this disease".[12]

Alexion accused of "moral blackmail" in Belgium[edit]

In April and May 2013, Alexion was involved in a national controversy in Belgium when media revealed that the government refused to pay for a seven year old boy's treatment on the account that the drug he needed to stay alive, Soliris, was too expensive. The boy's medicine cost 9,000 euros every two weeks.[13] Several politicians stated that the company was attempting to 'blackmail' the government,[14] charges which Alexion denies. On May 4, 2013, the newspaper De Standaard reported that a PR agency working for Alexion had helped the boy's parents communicate their story to the press.[15] This story was confirmed by other news organizations, and it was also reported that the parents had believed their benefactor was a Dutch organization for patients and that the PR agency acted with permission from Alexion.[16][17] By May 7 an agreement was reached to reimburse the medicine.[18]


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