Every biotech dreams of having a blockbuster drug with annual sales higher than $1 billion. But ultra-orphan-drugmaker BioMarin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:BMRN) has a more realistic short-term goal: have $1 billion in sales for biotech's basket of five drugs.
It's getting there. In the third quarter, revenue increased 29%, to $177 million, more than two-thirds of the way to the $250 million per quarter required for the company to reach its goal.
Much of the growth came from its newest drug Vimizim for Morquio A syndrome. BioMarin recorded $25 million in sales of the drug in just its second full quarter on the market, a solid 76% quarter-over-quarter increase. The fast uptake has come from clinical trial patients switching over to commercial prescriptions, so sales growth in the U.S. may slow; but the EU is further behind, so we should still see growth there and in Latin America, as well as Brazil, where it's awaiting approval.
Kuvan was another solid performer, with sales growing 22.5% year over year. The new powder formulation that can be dissolved in water or juice to make it easy for younger children has helped with new patient starts.
Sales of Naglazyme are always choppy due to lumpy ordering from Latin America; this quarter was no different. Revenue was only 6.8% higher than the year-ago quarter and substantially lower than the second quarter of the year. The better way to look at the growth is the year-to-date numbers, where sales of Naglazyme are up 21.5% over the same period in 2013.
Revenue from Aldurazyme, which is sold by Sanofi's (NASDAQ:SNY) Genzyme, fell slightly, but that was due to adjustments used to reconcile timing of product transfer. Genzyme recorded a 6.9% year-over-year growth in sales of the drug in the third quarter.
BioMarin's fifth drug, Firdapse, remains a token side note with sales of just $4.6 million in the third quarter.
With the solid earnings under its belt, BioMarin raised its 2014 guidance. Again. The biotech is now looking for revenue of $700 million to $710 million for the year. That's fairly remarkable considering that guidance at the start of the year was for revenue to come in between $650 million and $680 million. The increased revenue and slightly decreased expectations for research and development costs for the year allowed BioMarin to lower its expected non-GAAP loss for the year to between $50 million and $65 million from a previous expectation of between $60 million and $80 million.
BioMarin is a far cry from being profitable on a GAAP basis -- losses should come in north of $160 million for the year -- but the non-GAAP is a better measure of its cash flow. The company has slightly more cash, cash equivalents, and investments now than it did at the start of the year.
With the next drug approval, PEG PAL, not expected until the second half of 2016 -- assuming everything stays on track for the drug -- the current crop of drugs are going to have to be enough to get the biotech to blockbuster status. The goal seems reasonable given the growth BioMarin has seen recently.
Brian Orelli has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends BioMarin Pharmaceutical. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.