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CSL gets top-line boost thanks to a post-pandemic boom in plasma collections

With plasma collection as its stock-in-trade, the struggles of CSL during the coronavirus lockdown were understandable. But a rebound—fueled by a surge in post-pandemic collections and an $11.7 billion acquisition of Swiss blood specialist Vifor—has rekindled the growth of Australia’s largest biotech.

With plasma collections up 31% and to a record level for the company, CSL reported revenue of $13.3 billion for fiscal year 2023, an increase of 26%. At constant currencies, CSL’s sales came to $13.8 billion for a 31% boost, which includes $2.0 billion of revenue attributable to Vifor over 11 months since the completion of the buyout.

In seven years, the company has more than doubled its sales from $6.1 billion in 2016. And CSL sees the trend continuing as it projects a 9% to 11% increase in revenue in its fiscal year 2024, with profit landing between $2.9 and $3 billion, for a 13% to 17% gain.

CSL Behring—the largest of the company’s three business units—accounted for $9.3 billion of the company’s revenue, a 12% increase, boosted by the increase in plasma. CSL opened 12 new collection sites during the year and whittled collection costs by 14% from the previous fiscal year. Those figures include labor and donor compensation costs.

CSL chalked the increase up to “improved social mobility post-COVID, targeted marketing campaigns and enhanced digital initiatives to attract donors.”

With the ability to manufacture more plasma-based products, CSL saw its immunoglobulin (Ig) sales increase 21% to $4.7 billion. In the previous fiscal year—with the pandemic affecting plasma collections—immunoglobulin sales were down 3%. Fueling the growth was Privigen, which posted a 21% increase in sales.

“We’ve been, as you know, a bit hand to mouth going through COVID. We took a bit of a conservative, but appropriate approach to make sure that patients continue to receive our brands going forward,” Bill Campbell, CSL’s chief commercial officer, said on a conference call “The commercial teams around the world are quite anxious to get after more Ig volume after being a bit restrained in the last couple of years.”

CSL’s two other units, CSL Seqirus and CSL Vifor, each achieved revenue of more than $2 billion, posting growth of 9% and 14% respectively. CSL Seqirus is the company’s vaccine unit and 90% of its sales are from flu shots.

“For CSL Vifor, our focus is on organizing ourselves to unlock the value and growth within this business, a business we are yet to fully leverage,” Paul McKenzie, CSL’s CEO who took over in March, said on the call. “The iron and nephrology markets are evolving, and I have no doubt there will be challenges in the CSL Vifor growth profile, but the unmet patient need within these markets is significant.” 

In November of last year, CSL gained approval from the FDA for its hemophilia B gene therapy Hemgenix and made it the highest-priced drug in the world at $3.5 million. The company said it has dosed its first patient in the U.S.