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Generic drugs dent sales, but Acorda ends 2012 ‘strong’

Acorda Therapeutics Inc., the Ardsley-based biotechnology company, expects net revenue from its drug for multiple sclerosis patients to rise at a slower pace in 2013 than in 2012, when revenue from the company’s 3-year-old Ampyra brand jumped about 26 percent from the previous year.

Net revenue from Ampyra, an extended release tablet used to improve walking in MS patients, totaled $72.7 million in the last fourth quarter, up $15.5 million or 27 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011. For the year, Ampyra net revenue was $266.1 million in 2012, compared with $210.5 million in 2011.

The company expects net revenue from Ampyra of $285 million to $315 million in 2013, an increase of 7 percent to 18 percent from 2012.

Acorda’s fourth quarter net income of approximately $133 million, or $3.27 of diluted earnings share, was largely accounted by a nearly $131.2 million benefit from deferred tax assets. That compared with net revenue of $12.7 million, or 32 cents per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2011. Acorda’s fourth quarter income before taxes amounted to approximately $1.1 million last year, compared with $12.9 million in pre-tax income in the same quarter of 2011.

The 2012 launch of generic versions of Acorda’s Zanaflex capsules, used to treat spasticity in neurological patients, resulted in a 49 percent drop in annual sales revenue from Zanaflex products, from $45.8 million in 2011 to $23.5 million in 2012. Fourth-quarter revenue last year from prescription sales of Zanaflex and Acorda sales of the generic drug to a pharmaceutical company totaled $5.2 million, a 56 percent decline from Zanaflex revenue in the last quarter of 2011, before generic versions went on the market.

Acorda Chief Financial Officer David Lawrence reported the company was cash flow positive in 2012 and closed the year in a strong financial position with $333.2 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term and long-term investment. That was up $14.5 million from the third quarter last year and up $37.3 million from the close of 2011.

Acorda in 2012 spent $53.9 million in research and development, up 28 percent or $11.8 million from 2011. Some of those costs were related to the company’s $6.8 million acquisition of  Neuronex Inc. that closed in December. The North Carolina-based company is the developer of a diazepam nasal spray for epileptic patients, for which Acorda plans to apply for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval this year and could commercially launch in 2014. Acorda expects research and development expenses this year in the range of $60 million to $70 million.

“We believe we have one of the most interesting neurology pipelines in the industry,” Dr. Ronald Cohen, president and CEO of Acorda Therapeutics, said in a press release included with the NASDAQ-traded company’s quarterly and annual report. In addition to its nasal spray drug application, Acorda anticipates having three clinical-stage drug trial programs by the middle of this year, Cohen noted.

“The continued growth of Ampyra, coupled with near-term pipeline milestones, has created the potential for meaningful growth in shareholder value,” he said.

Acorda last year relocated its headquarters from Hawthorne to the Ardsley Park life science campus in the town of Greenburgh. In an annual independent survey of best companies to work for in New York, Acorda in 2012 ranked seventh among large companies with more than 250 employees. The biotech company also ranked among the state’s top 10 employers in 2011.

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About The Author

John Golden
Westchester Bureau Chief

The Business Journal’s senior writer, John Golden directs news coverage of the county and Hudson Valley region as Westchester bureau chief. He was an award-winning upstate columnist and feature writer before joining the Business Journal in 2007. He is the author of “Northern Drift: Sketches on the New York Frontier,” a collection of his regional journalism.

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