Abraxis Tardy, but With a Note

Now into the second quarter of 2008, Abraxis Bioscience (Nasdaq: ABII  ) has finally announced its December-ended quarterly results. It has a good excuse for being tardy, though; it split off its generic-drug division, APP Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: APPX  ) , last November, which must have created a lot of extra work for the bean counters.

Abraxis' only drug, Abraxane, continued its dominance of the other taxanes -- Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE: BMY  ) Taxol and Sanofi-Aventis' (NYSE: SNY  ) Taxotere -- for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Fourth-quarter revenue from sales of Abraxane was up 59% year over year to $89 million.

Growth of revenue from Abraxane has slowed a bit -- this quarter's 59% year-over-year growth dragged the full-year growth down to 86% year over year -- but sales growth should pick back up in the second half of the year as Abraxis launches in Europe.

Abraxis' long-term plan to increase Abraxane's sales is to expand the indications that the drug is approved to treat. It's planning on having five phase 3 trials running this year for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, malignant melanoma, first-line metastatic breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer. That last one gets two trials, because the company is so confident about the potential for Abraxane based on the phase 2 data. It wasn't willing to share the results, lest it get the data banned from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting for not being novel, but CEO Patrick Soon sounded downright giddy about the drug's potential to treat this difficult disease.

With the high costs of clinical trials, Abraxis still isn't showing any income, but thanks to APP Pharmaceuticals taking on debt in the split, the company has $705 million in cash and investments on its books. Given that it lost just $5 million in the fourth quarter of last year, that stash should easily tide it through until the phase 3 trials are completed.

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