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4 Biotechs That Were Winners at ASH

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD – Updated Jan 2, 2022 at 9:42PM

Key Points

  • Bristol Myers Squibb presented positive data for two promising multiple myeloma therapies.
  • Agios Pharmaceuticals and Forma Therapeutics had dueling data for their respective sickle cell disease drugs.
  • Bluebird Bio also reported strong data for its sickle cell disease therapy.

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Big pharma companies and small biotechs alike emerged from the key American Society of Hematology conference as big winners.

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting and Expo was held in December. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Dec. 15, 2021, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss four drugmakers that were especially big winners at the 2021 ASH conference.

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Keith Speights: The American Society of Hematology Annual, ASH, Meeting and Expo kicked off over the weekend, wrapped up on Tuesday. Were there any biotech stocks that you think came out of this year's ASH meeting as winners that are worthy of special attention from investors?

Brian Orelli: Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY 1.63%), and ticker there's B-M-Y, had some good data. The company jumped into the blood cancer market through its acquisition of Celgene. The Revlimid patents are expiring soon, so it needs some new drugs to make up for that.

At ASH presentations, it had two new multiple myeloma therapies: iberdomide and a drug that still goes by code-name CC-92480. The combination of those two drugs produced 33 remissions in 131 people in the clinical trial, so that's about a 30% reduction. These are patients who had failed Revlimid or Pomalyst. The fact that they got 33 remissions in 131 patients I think is pretty good.

Another one to watch is Agios (AGIO 1.86%), the ticker there is A-G-I-O, and Forma (FMTX), the ticker there is F-M-T-X. They're battling for patients with sickle-cell disease. Forma has a slight lead with 73% of patients deemed hemoglobin responders versus 56% for Agios.

It seems like it's a big difference, but it's in a small number of patients. I'm not sure how much you can read into whether 73% versus 56% is that big of a deal with 15 patients in one study and 16 patients in the other study. Small changes can have big effect on the percentage-wise.

Then Bluebird Bio (BLUE 1.27%) reported strong data for its sickle cell disease drug. The data wasn't a big surprise, but considering the year the company has had with its updates, the fact that the data wasn't any different than the preliminary data is definitely a win for Bluebird Bio.

Keith Speights: Thanks, Brian. Investors, Brian's picks for some of the biggest winners out of ASH -- Bristol Myers Squibb, Agios, Forma, and Bluebird Bio. Four stocks there to keep your eyes on. 

Brian Orelli, PhD has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Keith Speights owns Bristol Myers Squibb. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Bristol Myers Squibb. The Motley Fool recommends Bluebird Bio. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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