Market slacker Celgene does something good for a change, looking to turn the corner on past mishaps

At this point Celgene has been so battered over its poor performance of the past year you have to do a double take to convince yourself when something good happens to it.

But there was some considerable good news to be had in its Phase III study of franchise drug Revlimid in combination with Roche’s Rituxan in two forms — follicular and marginal zone — of indolent lymphoma. 

According to researchers, they tracked a “highly statistically significant” improvement in progression-free survival in the study, opening the door to some near-term marketing applications that at least one prominent analyst speculates could be worth more than $1 billion in added sales.

Celgene’s shares were up 1.6% in early trading Tuesday.

Geoffrey Porges, Leerink

We don’t have the data yet, and rarely do in these releases as the companies hold the numbers for a scientific conference. And overall survival results have yet to be reached. But no one missed the implications of its boast on statistical significance. 

Celgene’s pipeline is stuffed with so many shots like this, some analysts say it can’t mess up everything. In addition, it still has an R&D group filled with some of the best researchers in the business and a pipeline that boasts a group of potential breakthroughs, like bb2121 or JCAR017. So don’t think for a second that the company doesn’t have plenty of supporters around the industry.

Leerink’s Geoffrey Porges — who offered the upbeat incremental sales estimate without willing to change the company’s revenue forecast just yet — is also happy to give Celgene a thumbs up after its many notable setbacks. He noted:

(T)he positive result emphasizes the optionality that exists in many parts of the company’s pipeline. Despite recent history, not everything in the company’s portfolio will fail, nor every operational result disappoint. This pessimism about the company and its stock suggests opportunity to us, and the optionality of the mid- to late stage pipeline is a significant reason behind our continued outperform rating for the stock, despite the many development and operational stumbles in the last year.

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