The markets have gotten a little panicky lately, so last week we asked some of our top analysts to tell us what they think are the best companies to buy in a time of tumbling ticker tape. One pick was Celgene (CELG), a biotech company with a slate of intriguing treatments. This week, we've asked them to tell us what they think could be the "big story" for the company in the coming year. Read on to learn what they think could move Celgene's shares in 2015.
Keith Speights: Celgene's Revlimid proves that the bigger they are, the more they keep going. Revlimid generated $4.28 billion in sales last year, two-thirds of the company's total revenue. Celgene expects the drug to rake in around $5 billion in 2014, nearly 17% higher than last year.
This success stems from Revlimid's position in the market as a treatment for three blood diseases: relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes, and relapsed/refractory mantle cell lymphoma. Another indication could be on the way relatively soon. The FDA is scheduled to rule on approval of Revlimid in treating newly diagnosed multiple myeloma by Feb. 22, 2015.
Don't be surprised if this powerhouse drug brings even more good news for Celgene next year. The company will likely file for regulatory approval in the coming months for Revlimid as a maintenance therapy for multiple myeloma and for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
Late-stage studies are also evaluating Revlimid in treating follicular lymphoma and as a second-line maintenance therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Add the potential for positive results from a handful of other early and mid-stage studies, and Revlimid looks like a gift that could keep on giving for years to come.
George Budwell: Abraxane is Celgene's oft-forgotten middle child, sandwiched between the star Revlimid and attention-grabbing newer drugs like Otezla. Even so, Abraxane is a key component of Celgene's growth profile going forward.
Following regulatory approvals for treating breast cancer in the U.S. and Europe, Celgene acquired Abraxane from Abraxis in 2010. Since acquiring the drug, Celgene has broadened its label to include both non-small cell lung cancer and advanced pancreatic cancer, putting it firmly on the path toward blockbuster status. Abraxane saw global sales of $215 million in the second quarter alone, up 39% from a year ago and 17% from the first quarter. Although Celgene thinks Abraxane's upper limit this year will be $900 million, management tends to be conservative in its estimates.
I personally think it could close in on, or even surpass, blockbuster status by year's end. Looking further out, Celgene is testing Abraxane in a number of interesting combinations for a variety of cancers, making it an important drug to watch within the company's product portfolio.
Todd Campbell: I agree with Keith and George that Revlimid and Abraxane are important, but in my view Otezla could have the biggest impact on Celgene next year. Otezla marks the company's first major foray into the treatment of autoimmune disorders such as psoriasis, and Celgene has said it thinks Otezla sales could hit $1.5 billion in 2017.
Celgene's enthusiasm might be warranted given that some of the top-selling medicine globally is used to treat autoimmune diseases. For example, AbbVie's Humira is the globe's best-selling drug, with more than $10.7 billion in sales last year, and Amgen (AMGN -0.22%) and Pfizer's (PFE 0.51%) Enbrel posted sales north of $8 billion in 2013. But Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ 1.10%) Stelara could give investors the best insight into Otezla's potential.
Stelara won FDA approval for psoriasis in 2009 and approval for use in active psoriatic arthritis in 2013. Stelara's sales totaled $393 million in 2010 and have since grown steadily, reaching $528 million in the second quarter of 2014. That gives Stelara an annualized sales run rate of over $2 billion.
Since Otezla won FDA approval for psoriatic arthritis in March and psoriasis in September, it's not inconceivable to think it could follow a similar path -- especially since Otezla is an oral drug rather than an injectable like Stelara. Since Celgene reported that Otezla shared the market share lead for new patient starts at the end of the second quarter, Otezla might have the biggest chance to move the needle for Celgene next year.