Five years fly by quickly.
In 2022, the landscape for cancer drugs will be different from today -- but with some familiar players. Pharmaceutical market analysis firm EvaluatePharma recently published its report looking at what the biopharmaceutical world might look like five years from now.
Which cancer drugs will be the biggest winners in 2022? Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY), Merck (NYSE:MRK), AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) could see their products at the top if EvaluatePharma's projections are right.
No. 1: Revlimid
Celgene's blood cancer drug Revlimid already ranks as one of the world's best-selling oncology drugs. Last year, the biotech reported sales of nearly $7 billion for the drug. By 2022, Revlimid could be pulling in more than double that amount -- $14.2 billion.
Two factors appear likely to drive Revlimid's sales higher. Celgene is evaluating the drug in late-stage clinical studies for three additional indications: first-line diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, relapsed/refractory indolent lymphoma, and first-line follicular lymphoma. Revlimid is also an anchor in several combo treatments that could be on the way.
No. 2: Opdivo
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) lost a significant chunk of its market cap after announcing disappointing results last year from a study evaluating Opdivo as a first-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Despite this setback, Opdivo should still be a huge winner, with projected sales in 2022 of $9.9 billion, more than double the $4.7 billion in sales for the drug in 2016.
Combinations should be key for Opdivo's future fortunes. BMS expects to announce important results from a late-stage study of Opdivo combined with chemotherapy in early 2018 in treating NSCLC. Good news from this study could bode well for Opdivo's chances of coming close to the $10 billion sales mark five years from now.
No. 3: Keytruda
While BMS slumped after Opdivo's stumble in the first-line setting for NSCLC, Merck flourished. That's because its Keytruda won approval as a first-line treatment for the indication. EvaluatePharma thinks Keytruda will reach sales of $9.5 billion in 2022 -- a huge gain over the $1.4 billion in sales last year.
Merck currently awaits approval for Keytruda for four additional indications. In addition, the drug is the focus of late-stage clinical studies targeting nine other cancer indications. However, the Food and Drug Administration recently placed a clinical hold on two clinical studies targeting multiple myeloma and halted dosing of Keytruda in a third study after patient deaths occurred.
No. 4: Imbruvica
AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson already have a big winner with Imbruvica, which generated combined revenue of $3 billion last year. However, that's only a fraction of the $7.5 billion in sales projected for the drug in 2022.
Imbruvica is currently approved for four types of cancer -- chronic lymphocytic leukemia, previously treated mantle cell lymphoma, marginal zone lymphoma, and Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia. Three late-stage clinical studies are in progress for Imbruvica in treating additional indications.
No. 5: Ibrance
Pfizer's Ibrance is a powerful treatment for hormone receptor positive (HR+), HER2- metastatic breast cancer. Last year, the drug made $2.1 billion in sales. Five years from now, Ibrance is projected to generate sales topping $7 billion.
Some of that growth could come from approval of other breast cancer indications. Pfizer also has a phase 2 study underway exploring the potential of Ibrance in treating head and neck cancer.
Biggest winner among cancer drug stocks?
My prediction is that Celgene will not only have the top-selling cancer drug in 2022 but will also produce the biggest gains between now and then. Revlimid isn't the only thing the biotech has going for it. Celgene also has an outstanding pipeline in oncology as well as inflammation and immunology.
Although Revlimid currently accounts for 64% of Celgene's total revenue, I expect that percentage to drop even as the drug's sales increase. I think this stock is a great growth opportunity for long-term investors and plan to hold on to my shares for years to come.