Brakes Are Off at Dendreon

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A year after the approval of prostate cancer treatment Provenge, Dendreon (Nasdaq: DNDN  ) is still giving out monthly sales numbers. While I've questioned their necessity and gave kudos when the company didn't give them in the fourth-quarter results, they're at least somewhat important now that Dendreon is stepping on the gas.

The FDA signed off on the expansion of Dendreon's New Jersey facility in March, allowing it to quadruple the output from that facility. Provenge is tailor-made for each patient using their own cells, so it can't be stockpiled.

In April, the company produced $15 million of Provenge, compared to an average of just $9.4 million in the first three months of the year. That's not exactly a quadrupling because the company is taking a measured approach to the expansion.

Dendreon expects to gain FDA approval for a new manufacturing site in the Los Angeles area by June 30 and approval of a third site in Atlanta in late Aug. or early Sep. Bringing all of the new workstations on-line in New Jersey before then would be a waste because the patients coming in would just shift to the new facilities, requiring layoffs in New Jersey. The measured approach is the right way to go about it even if it doesn't maximize revenue immediately.

For the year, Dendreon is still guiding for revenue between $350 million and $400 million. Approximately half of that is expected in the fourth quarter, which equates to between $58 million and $67 million per month in Q4. With all three facilities up and running by then, hopefully Dendreon isn't still breaking out monthly figures.

Assuming Dendreon hits its numbers, where does it go in 2012? Provenge's only real competition at the moment is sanofi-aventis' (NYSE: SNY  ) Taxotere, which is also used as a first-line treatment. Sanofi's Jevtana and Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ  ) recently approved Zytiga are both approved for use after Taxotere. Presumably either of those or one of the up and coming prostate cancer drugs from Medivation (Nasdaq: MDVN  ) , OncoGenex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: OGXI  ) , Teva Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: TEVA  ) , and others could get a front-line indication, but for now Provenge is safe.

Monthly numbers or not, it's clear the brakes are coming off.

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Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Teva is a Motley Fool Global Gains recommendation. Johnson & Johnson is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Johnson & Johnson. The Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson, and Teva. Alpha Newsletter Account, LLC owns shares of Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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