No one predicted rapid growth of gene therapy market, says CEO

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/Katy L Pack)
(Image: Getty/Katy L Pack)

Related tags Repligen Gene therapy

After posting revenue growth of 39%, Repligen CEO suggests this was driven by filtration and chromatography franchises, particularly customers in gene therapy.

Despite posting a strong 2019, Anthony Hunt, CEO of Repligen, had to defend the company’s financial guidance for 2020, which came in at 14-18% growth of total revenue.

This is some way down on 2019 results of 39%, prompting questions from investors about why Repligen would reach such an estimation.

During an investor call on results, Hunt explained that the strong sales it had achieved across its bioprocessing equipment offerings in 2019 made for “really difficult [comparison] in 2020.”

Particularly, the company’s OPUS brand, its range of pre-packed purification columns, saw growth of over 50%, and Hunt also pointed to the rapid growth of the gene therapy market as an unexpected boost to its financial year.

“No one really in the industry predicted how fast the gene therapy market was going to grow. And I think we all kind of missed that a little bit,”​ Hunt explained, as to why the company had surpassed its initial 2019 full year guidance, previously estimated to be within the 12-16% range.

Gene therapy accounts now represent 15% of Repligen’s overall revenue, as sales rose to approximately $40m (€36.7m), with customers in this space accounting for 60% of filtration and 35% of chromatography products.

Such sales are a significant increase on 2017, where gene therapy clients generated $6m for the company. Moving into 2020, Hunt stated that he expects gene therapy sales to develop by a further 30%.

However, though gene therapy provided substantial growth, Hunt noted that GE Healthcare’s move in 2020 to in-house manufacture of Protein A ligands, and away from its own product​, would create a 4-5% financial headwind for the company.

This factor, alongside investments being made in the company’s facilities, capacity and staffing, saw 2020 financial guidance coming in substantially lower than 2019 results.

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