Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) released a mixed bag for its third quarter earnings on Thursday, satisfying bulls and bears alike. The bears are currently winning with shares down about 5% on the news.
Pomalyst moved into the second place on Celgene's list of top-selling drugs, passing Abraxane, with sales increasing 42% year over year. Not surprisingly given the later launch, international sales -- 62% year-over-year growth -- are increasing faster than U.S. sales, which only grew by 27% year over year. With $257 million in sales in the third quarter, the blood cancer drug is at blockbuster levels although it'll need three more quarters to secure the title.
The direct-to-consumer advertisements for Otezla seem to be paying off with sales increasing 55% quarter over quarter to $139 million. With international sales contributing just $10 million of the revenue, there's plenty of further growth even if U.S. sales growth slows down.
Sales of Abraxane were up just 8%, which came entirely from international sales. In the U.S., sales actually decreased 4% as the cancer drug faced new competition from immunotherapies -- Bristol-Myers Squibb's (NYSE:BMY) Opdivo and Merck's Keytruda. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck recently gained FDA approval for their drugs in lung cancer. Both drugs were first approved for melanoma, but Abraxane isn't approved to treat melanoma, so this is new competition.
U.S. Abraxane sales had been benefiting from its expansion into pancreatic cancer, but the indication is reaching its peak penetration. Further sales for pancreatic cancer could come from the help of its lung-cancer foe Bristol-Myers Squibb. Last year, the two companies established a partnership to test a combination of Opdivo and Abraxane in pancreatic cancer as well as lung and breast cancer where Abraxane is also approved.
Sales of Celgene's top-selling Revlimid were a bit mixed with U.S. sales OK, but international sales coming in lower in the third quarter than the previous quarter. Management blamed the lower international sales on sales in Russia, which are apparently coming as bulk purchases. In the future, expect international sales to be lumpy with the second and fourth quarter seeing sales to Russia.
In the U.S., Revlimid sales increased 18% year over year, which was welcome news after Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) reported solid sales for its competing multiple myeloma treatment Kyprolis. Revlimid is now approved as a first-line treatment, keeping it from having to directly compete with Amgen as long as Celgene can convince doctors to use it first.
Management increased 2015 guidance for Revlimid to approximately $5.8 billion from a range of $5.6 billion to $5.7 billion, implying that the fourth quarter will come in strong with sales in Russia and continued dominance over Amgen. Guidance for Abraxane sales in 2015 went the other way to a range of $950 million to $1 billion from the previous range of $1 billion to $1.25 billion. Net effect: No change to Celgene's 2015 overall product sales guidance.
Looking to the pipeline, the next few months are going to be data driven with over 150 abstracts being presented at medical meetings in the fourth quarter. At the American Society of Hematology (ASH), we'll get plenty of data for Revlimid combination treatments, which could drive further growth of the megablockbuster. ASH will also have earlier-stage data for pipeline drugs to treat blood diseases. And at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium we'll get a look at combination treatments using Abraxane.
Brian Orelli has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Celgene. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.