Cell Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CTIC ) announced today the European commercial launch of its non-Hodgkin's lymphoma drug Pixuvri. The company plans to first roll out the drug in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland in September. Austria and Norway will follow in early October. Product launches in Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands are planned for November. Pixuvri will be introduced to other European countries in 2013.
What it means
Pixuvri could be used to treat more than 8,000 European patients per year, according to research cited by Cell Therapeutics. The company anticipates peak annual sales for the drug to reach at least $240 million.
Alternative drug treatments exist for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Rituxan, marketed through a partnership between Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB ) and Genentech, had sales of $3 billion in 2011.
Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SPPI ) sells Zevalin, which was actually acquired from Cell Therapeutics. Spectrum's revenue for Zevalin in 2011 totaled $28 million, but that number reflects only U.S. sales because the company didn't gain non-U.S. rights until earlier this year. Another radioimmunotherapy drug, Bexxar, is made by GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK ) .
However, Pixuvri is the first and only drug at this time approved to treat adult patients with multiply relapsed or refractory aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Clinical studies showed that the drug resulted in better outcomes than other active single-agent treatments for the targeted patient population.
What is the greatest benefit to Cell Therapeutics from the launch of Pixuvri in Europe? Cash. The company has around $24 million of cash on hand with a monthly burn rate of $4.5 million. Without some positive cash flow, the money runs out in early 2013.
Even with anticipated revenue coming in as Pixuvri rolls out, Cell Therapeutics will require additional money. The combination of good news for Pixuvri and no current debt should help the company obtain the $75 million in additional financing that it estimates it needs.
Investors should watch the rollout of Pixuvri across Europe closely. Unexpected delays could impact the company's financial situation, although Cell Therapeutics will likely announce a new financing arrangement soon that should get it past any hiccups along the way.
The company also expects to initiate phase 3 trials of its Pacritinib drug in fourth quarter of this year. Cell Therapeutics hopes the drug, intended for treatment of myelofibrosis, achieves even greater success than Jakafi, the first JAK2 inhibitor on the market from Incyte (Nasdaq: INCY ) .
With the pace picking up as Pixuvri launches and with some promising pipeline potential, Cell Therapeutics appears to be a company to keep your eyes on. But it's certainly not the only one.
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