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UCB Pharma: Making Up for Lost Time

Executive Summary

Patent expiries across Europe of blockbuster allergy drug Zyrtec have hit UCB Pharma hard: the drug accounts for half of the mid-sized Belgian firm's revenues. Thus far, follow-on Xyzal has done poorly, prompting critics to accuse the group of complacency and lack of planning. But UCB has woken up. With some new senior pharma executives on board, it is determined to defend Xyzal-and its entire franchise-with strong clinical trial data; data which it hopes will also help convince governments, keen to de-reimburse antihistamines altogether, that allergy is a serious disease. Yet even if successful, this won't be enough to fill the Zyrtec gap. UCB needs to continue to push its promising anti-epileptic Keppra, and to cut its teeth in the in-licensing game.

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