|Leonard Bell (Chairman)|
Ludwig N. Hantson (CEO)
Asfotase alfa (Strensiq)
Sebelipase alfa (Kanuma)
Andexanet alfa (Andexxa)
|Revenue||US$6.069 billion (2020)|
|US$603 million (2020)|
|Total assets||US$18.103 billion (2020)|
|Total equity||US$11.651 billion (2020)|
Number of employees
|Footnotes / references|
Its products include eculizumab (Soliris) with $4.064 billion in 2020 revenues and ravulizumab (Ultomiris) with $1.076 billion in 2020 revenues, both used to treat the rare disorders of atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH); asfotase alfa (Strensiq) with $731 million in 2020 revenues, used to treat hypophosphatasia; sebelipase alfa (Kanuma) with $117 million in 2020 revenues, used to treat lysosomal acid lipase deficiency, and andexanet alfa (Andexxa) with $78 million in 2020 revenues, used to stop life threatening or uncontrollable bleeding in people who are taking rivaroxaban or apixaban.
With costs that can reach as much as $2 million per year, the drugs manufactured by Alexion are some of the most expensive drugs worldwide.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals was founded in 1992 at Science Park in New Haven, Connecticut by Steven Squinto and Leonard Bell, a physician at Yale New Haven Hospital and assistant professor of medicine and pathology at Yale School of Medicine.
In June 2010, there was an outbreak of hemolytic-uremic syndrome caused by Shigatoxigenic and verotoxigenic Escherichia coli (EHEC) in Germany. Soliris was tested as a treatment option because of its effectiveness in treating atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, an illness similar to that caused by the EHEC infection.
In January 2014, the company paid Moderna $100 million for ten product options to develop rare disease treatments, including for Crigler-Najjar syndrome, using Moderna's mRNA therapeutics platform. Although Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel expected the platform to enter human trials in 2016, the program was scrapped in January 2017 after animal trials showed that Moderna's treatment would never be safe enough for humans.
In 2016, the company became a member of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).
Alexion moved its headquarters back to New Haven following the completion of New Haven's Downtown Crossing project in February 2016.
In September 2017, Alexion announced it would cut its workforce by 20% and move its headquarters to Boston, Massachusetts in mid-2018. It also announced the closure of its manufacturing facility in Smithfield, Rhode Island.
In July 2021, AstraZeneca acquired the company. Upon completion of merger, Alexion shareholders will own approximately 15% of combined company.The headquarters and operations would remain in boston.It would focus on rare diseases.
In September 2000, Alexion acquired Proliferon, a development-stage biopharmaceutical firm, for $41 million in stock. The company was renamed Alexion Antibody Technologies.
The following is an illustration of the company's mergers, acquisitions, corporate spin-offs and historical predecessors:
Alexion develops drugs to treat rare diseases. Pharmaceutical companies that produce drugs to treat rare diseases that afflict fewer than 10,000 people can charge very high prices for these drugs. They must also spread the cost of research and development over fewer patients since the drugs are not widely used. Health insurance companies have generally been willing to pay the high prices for such drugs since the need for these drugs is very rare.
Alexion's first drug, Soliris (Eculizumab), launched in 2007, used to treat atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) and paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). It has been approved for use in Canada, the European Union, Japan, and the United States; however, availability in Canada is limited and is mostly through private clinics.
In September 2011, the FDA approved the use of Soliris as a treatment for atypical hemolytic-uremic syndrome in both adults and children. More than half of people with aHUS die due to damage to vital organs/organ failure, usually involving the kidneys, caused by uncontrolled complement activation.
In October 2017, the FDA approved the use of Soliris to treat adult patients with generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG). In November 2017, the company received a patent for Soliris from the Japan Patent Office.
With a list price of over $470,000 per year, Soliris is one of the most expensive drugs worldwide. Alexion hires public relations firms to help people institute campaigns to pressure their governments to pay for the drug, which very few individuals can afford. Much of the research for the development of Soliris originates from publicly funded universities. There is an ethical question as to the pricing of the drug and the ethics of the drug manufacturer.
In April and May 2013, a controversy arose in Belgium when the media revealed that the government had refused to pay for a seven-year-old boy's treatment because Soliris was too expensive. The boy's medicine cost €9,000 every two weeks. A public relations agency working for Alexion had been reportedly looking for such a story and helped the boy's parents communicate their story to the press to pressure governments to reimburse the cost of the drug. Several politicians stated that the company was attempting to 'blackmail' the government, charges which Alexion denied. By May 7, 2013, an agreement had been reached for the government to reimburse the cost of the medicine beginning in July 2013.
Kanuma, which Alexion acquired via its acquisition of Synageva, was approved in 2015 to treat lysosomal acid lipase deficiency, a fatal genetic disorder that cause fatty material to build up in blood vessel walls, the liver, and other tissues.