At this point, earnings calls for Momenta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:MNTA) are more an opportunity to update investors than to report revenue and earnings. Because, let's face it... sales of Momenta's and Novartis' (NYSE:NVS) enoxaparin, a generic version of Sanofi's (NASDAQ:SNY) Lovenox, are pretty pitiful.
Net sales of the drug were $48 million in the third quarter compared to $58 million in the year-ago quarter. The lower year-over-year sales came from both lower volume due to competition from other generics, and lower prices as a result of the aforementioned competition.
Momenta's share of the sales came to just $4.7 million in the third quarter. The company had almost as much revenue ($4.6 million) from its partners reimbursing research and development costs as it did from sales of its approved product.
The company's net loss for the third quarter was $29 million, up slightly from the $25 million loss in the year-ago quarter.
The key to kicking revenue into high gear comes from M356, Momenta's and Novartis' generic version of Teva Pharmaceuticals' (NYSE:TEVA) multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone. The drug is still under review by the Food and Drug Administration -- the application was filed in 2008! -- but the company is hopeful it will get approved soon.
The sooner the better -- and not just because Momenta could use the revenue. Teva is actively switching patients to its version of Copaxone that only has to be injected three times per week. It's hard to know if patients will be willing to switch back to daily injections just to take advantage of the cheaper generic. Switching from the daily version to the generic version is a no-brainer and should be an automatic decision by the pharmacist. The longer the approval takes, the fewer of those patients there will be.
Momenta and Novartis have a generic version of the three-times-a-week version; but it was only submitted to the FDA in August, so who knows when it will get approved. Hopefully, because it's essentially the same drug, it won't take six-plus years to review the application.
Further back in the revenue-generating timeline, Momenta has a partnership with Baxter (NYSE:BAX) to develop biosimilar drugs, which are generic versions of biologics. The protein-based drugs aren't exact copies -- thus the "biosimilar" nomenclature -- and will require more rigorous clinical trials than typical small-molecule generics.
Momenta's lead product M923, a biosimilar version of AbbVie's (NYSE:ABBV) megablockbuster Humira, is ready to go into clinical trials. Once the clinical trial application is accepted, Momenta will get two milestone payments totaling $12 million. Development of M834, the second-most advanced molecule -- there are eight total -- is also progressing well, garnering the company a $7 million milestone payment in the fourth quarter.
Momenta ended the third quarter with $176.5 million, and plans to burn through about $26 million in the fourth quarter. At that rate, the company's nest egg isn't going to last too long. Fortunately the impending $19 million in milestone payments will help offset the cash burn. If M356 can ever get approved, it will bring in much needed revenue to help fund the biosimilar program and its novel drugs that are still in early development.