A $10 million milestone payment and the potential for more to come sends lung disease specialist Vectura (VEC) 5.3% higher to 171.4p.

The £693 million cap received the cash from licencing partner Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) after the generic asthma drug it created was filed with US regulator, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

If VR315 is cleared for sale in the US Vectura stands to receive a further $11 million and royalties from all sales in the US under the terms of the licencing agreement.

A decision is expected by the regulator in May 2017.  Hikma traded 0.7% higher to £20.91 on the news.

Numis forecasts that the treatment will make $320 million of peak sales in the US, if approved.

Web - Vectura - 08 April 2016

The news signals further erosion to the revenues generated by GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) leading asthma drug Advair, of which VR315 is a copy.

GlaxoSmithKline sold £3.7 billion worth of Advair in 2015 and other companies are looking to take a piece of that market. Swiss outfit Novartis (NOVN:VTX) has a generic version of Advair in the FDA’s hands.

‘In our view, Vectura/Hikma is one of only a few credible contenders targeting the c.$3 billion US market for Advair,’ Numis’ analysts said in a note.

‘We are bullish on the prospects and assign 75% chance of success, which reflects our confidence in the product following the update on clinical in January, which we believe indicated that the 1,430 patient trial had been successful in meeting the FDA definition of clinical bioequivalence.’

The news comes as Vectura is merging with Skyepharma (SKP) in a deal that will created a respiratory medicine and device business with a market cap of more than £1 billion.

Issue Date: 08 Apr 2016