While Juno's shareholders likely cheered this news, Celgene's have been decidedly less enthusiastic, with the biotech's stock price falling by nearly 5% ever since the initial rumor of this deal was leaked in mid-January.
The culprit? The overarching problem is that this rather pricey deal won't have an immediate impact on Celgene's top line. Juno's lead CAR-T therapy candidate, JCAR017, isn't expected to hit the market as a treatment for advanced B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma until 2019, after all.
The long-term value of this deal to Celgene's shareholders is also in serious doubt for one clear reason: JCAR017 requires individualized procedures that make it exceedingly difficult to manufacture on a commercial scale.
During clinical trials, for instance, the current cohort of Food and Drug Administration-approved CAR-T therapies were assessed on hundreds of patients -- not the thousands required to push their sales into the billions. Unfortunately, this scalability problem, which has plagued CAR-Ts from the onset, has yet to be adequately addressed.
The long and short of it is that the complex manufacturing process behind these first-generation CAR-Ts may limit their commercial potential in a significant way -- implying that Celgene might have just grossly overpaid for Juno.