What: Shares of ImmunoGen (NASDAQ:IMGN), a biotech company focused on developing anti-cancer therapies that utilize its antibody-drug conjugate technology, were throttled in December and fell 41%, based on data from S&P Capital IQ, after it and development partner Roche (OTC:RHHBY) reported less-than-stellar results in their MARIANNE study involving breast cancer drug Kadcyla.
So what: According to data released in mid-December that studied Kadcyla as a first-line treatment for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, the drug performed on par with the control combination of Herceptin and a taxane chemotherapy in terms of progression-free survival.
Kadcyla was tested as both a monotherapy and in combination with Perjeta, but none of the late-stage studies demonstrated a statistically significant improvement over the control combo in progression free survival. The failure of the MARIANNE study to hit its primary endpoint likely means no plans for an expansion into a first-line indication anytime soon, if ever. Following the news, Leerink Swann analyst Michael Schmidt slashed his firm's price target on ImmunoGen to $7 from $15 and downgraded the stock to market perform.
Now what: There's no sugarcoating that this wasn't good news, and it's certainly the last thing ImmunoGen shareholders wanted to hear with their company already receiving just a low-to-mid single-digit royalty on Kadcyla's global sales as a second-line HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer treatment. With a first-line indication out the window, it could be even longer before ImmunoGen has an opportunity to turn the corner to profitability. Considering that it's on pace to burn through $60 million to $65 million in cash on hand per year, it has a cash runway that currently only takes the company into late 2016, based on my estimates. Thus, cash burn remains a concern.
On the bright side, ImmunoGen has a bevy of key partnerships and can easily monetize its technology to raise cash. At the moment, the company is developing just shy of two dozen preclinical and clinical compounds, and is partnered on 19 of those compounds with some very well-known pharma giants. On top of milestone payments, any approved drug has a good chance of being promoted by an experienced marketing team. This pipeline diversity gives ImmunoGen many chances to hit a home run and could make its current value around $525 million quite attractive.