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Vifor Pharma Group reports strong growth in 2019, exceeding raised guidance


·         Net sales and EBITDA exceeded raised full-year guidance as a result of continued execution of the three strategic growth drivers 

·         Etienne Jornod to step down as Executive Chairman. Jacques Theurillat proposed to be elected as new Chairman

·         Stefan Schulze appointed CEO Vifor Pharma Group

·         Ferinject® / Injectafer®: Blockbuster status achieved one year earlier than anticipated

·         Nephrology portfolio driven by strong US performance of Velphoro® and Mircera®

·         Veltassa® delivered significant growth in the US by expanding the hyperkalaemia marke

ST GALLEN, 12 March 2020 – Vifor Pharma Group recorded strong financial and operational performance in 2019 by focusing on its three strategic growth drivers while continuing to invest in its pipeline. The company exceeded its raised guidance for full-year 2019 on both net sales and EBITDA.


·         Net sales of CHF 1,877.2 million, up 18.5%

·         EBITDA of CHF 540.0 million, up 37.9%

·         Core EPS of CHF 4.67

·         Strong balance sheet with equity ratio of 75.7%

·         Net cash position of CHF 5.7 million

·         Investment grade credit rating from Standard & Poor’s received in September 2019 and from Fitch Ratings in March 2020

·         Initiation of the sale process for OM Pharma


·         In-market sales of CHF 1.06 billion, up 19.1% from the previous year reinforcing status as the world leading i.v. iron therapy

·         Net sales increased 15.6% to CHF 561.0 million, by 17.5% in local currency

·         Strong performance mostly driven by the US market (+18.7%)

·         Growth of 20.1% adjusting for inventory impacts and increased demand due to INFeD shortages in 2018

·         Strategic partnership with Fresenius Kabi China announced in February 2020


·         Mircera® net sales CHF 523.4 million, up 16.0%, due to continued expansion in mid-sized organisation dialysis clinics in US

·         Velphoro® net sales CHF 181.7 million, up 89.9%, driven by strong US growth from continued adoption of updated KDIGO guidelines

·         Venofer® net sales CHF 132.4 million, up 12.0%, mostly driven by strong US demand 

·         Positive top-line data from pivotal phase-III ADVOCATE trial announced in November 2019 demonstrating avacopan’s superiority over standard of care at week 52 in ANCA-associated vasculitis


·         Net sales CHF 132.3 million, up 46.2%, with US net sales of CHF 124.8 million

·         Roll out continued in Europe with additional launches in Spain, Austria, Belgium and The Netherlands

·         Reimbursement secured in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Portugal and Spain

·         Positive recommendation for funding received from NICE in the UK in December 2019

·         Positive results from AMBER study demonstrating potential in renin-angiotensin-aldosterone inhibitor medication (RAASi) enablement with Veltassa® in patients with resistant hypertension and CKD

·         Global phase-IIIb outcome study DIAMOND initiated to evaluate the potential of Veltassa® in combination with RAASi to improve patient outcomes reducing cardiovascular mortality and hospitalisations


·         Collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. to commercialise Invokana® in US to nephrologists for patients with diabetic kidney disease

·         Partnership with Evotec, by creating a 50:50 joint venture, NephThera, to discover and develop novel nephrology therapeutics

·         Orphan drug designation granted by FDA and EMA to VIT-2763 (ferroportin inhibitor) for treatment of beta-thalassemia; phase-II study activities initiated in Q4 2019


·         Appointment of Dr Klaus Henning Jensen as Chief Medical Officer and member of the Executive Committee with effect from January 2020

·         Appointment of Lee Heeson as President International and member of the Executive Committee with effect from February 2020

Commenting on the 2019 results, Etienne Jornod, Executive Chairman of Vifor Pharma Group, said:

“Vifor Pharma Group recorded another excellent performance in 2019, focusing relentlessly on delivery and execution of our strategy. We continued to maximise our current products and future pipeline, while carefully managing costs and ensuring positive returns for our shareholders. Once again, we have kept our promise to shareholders, delivering strong, profitable growth and exceeding our raised 2019 guidance.

A strong focus on execution has enabled us to continue to build on our three strategic growth drivers. We remain on track to meet the ambitious Milestone 2020 targets which we set ourselves in 2017.”


After 25 years of service the Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vifor Pharma, Etienne Jornod, has decided not to renew his mandate, which expires at the Annual General Meeting of May 14, 2020.

Stefan Schulze, currently President of the Executive Committee and Chief Operating Officer (COO) is appointed CEO for Vifor Pharma Group as of May 14, 2020.

"At the request of major shareholders, I decided to accompany the first phase of Vifor Pharma's entrepreneurial independence when Galenica and Vifor Pharma were split up in 2017 and to run the plan “Milestone 2020”," says Etienne Jornod. "Today, with all objectives of such plan being overachieved Vifor Pharma is established as a stand-alone pharmaceutical company and has made outstanding progress. I have come to the end of my mandate and I believe this is the perfect time to hand over the responsibility to my successors to lead the Group. Vifor Pharma is today on the right track, with a renewed, strong and experienced BOD and EC members, all projects on track. Vifor Pharma has excellent prospects with many new products to be launched in the next years. The company’s Board of Directors has been almost completely renewed since the IPO of Galenica Sante over the last 3 years, with the addition of significant international and pharma expertise. The Executive Committee has also been reinforced with 3 very experienced international executives. Stefan Schulze has successfully established and led the Executive Committee and executed on the strategy since 2017 and the Executive Committee has proven that it has the competence and experience to address the challenges and opportunities of the company going forward".

Stefan Schulze, an engineer by education, spent his professional career in the healthcare industry in the U.S. and Europe. He was working for the Fresenius Group in various positions from 1992 to 2014. In 2014 he became CEO of Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma – a joint company of Vifor Pharma and Fresenius Medical Care. Stefan is COO and President of the Executive Committee of the Vifor Pharma Group since 2017 The Board of Directors proposes Jacques Theurillat to be elected by the shareholders as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors. All other Board members will stand for re-election. Gilbert Achermann, currently Chairman of the Board of Straumann Group, is proposed to become member of the Board to succeed Jacques Theurillat in the ARC (Audit and Risk Committee).

Jacques Theurillat has an extensive experience in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. From 1987 to 2006, he held various positions at Serono, including CFO and Deputy CEO. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Serono since 2000 until the sale of the company in 2006. He has served in thirteen different Boards during his career and at present, he is a founding partner of Sofinnova Crossover 1 Fund in Paris and a member of the Boards of CNH Industrials N.V., Mundipharma Ltd and ADC Therapeutics SA. Jacques Theurillat is a Swiss attorney-at-law and Swiss chartered tax expert and was elected to the BoD of Vifor Pharma in 2018.  

Jacques Theurillat comments: “The Board of Directors and I would like to sincerely thank Etienne Jornod for his excellent achievements in the past 25 years. Under his leadership and tenure the group has grown steadily from a value of 230 million Swiss francs to two listed companies with a total value of around 3 billion and 11 billion Swiss francs respectively, and today employ approximately 10,000 people. It has been a tremendous honor to work with him for all of us”

Etienne Jornod has spent his entire professional life to date with the Vifor Pharma Group (formerly Galenica until it changed its name to Vifor Pharma in 2017). Joining the company in 1975 as Junior Product Manager he was appointed to the Corporate Executive Committee in 1988. In 1995 he was appointed COO of the Galenica Group and a few months later he was appointed Chairman and CEO. Etienne Jornod has also been appointed Honorary Chairman of Galenica in 2017 as well as Honorary Chairman of Vifor Pharma in 2020. He will act as advisor and counsel to his successors, the Non-Executive Chairman and the CEO of Vifor Pharma Group.

"It is fantastic to be involved in the leadership and renewal of first-class management teams and employees," says Etienne Jornod. "Devoting my life to Vifor Pharma and Galenica would never have been possible without the unconditional support of my wife and children. I am grateful to all those who have enabled me to live my passion".

“For the last 5 years, because of the takeover of Relypsa, the IPO of Galenica Santé and the launch of Vifor Pharma, I had almost no time for vacation, I will compensate this now, that is for sure!”

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Last Updated: 12-Mar-2020