Following the saga of drug developer ImClone Systems
Despite all of the boardroom maneuvers, ImClone has been performing OK, considering that its cancer treatment Erbitux is now facing more competition from Amgen's
To some degree, any gain by Vectibix is Erbitux's loss -- and vice versa. Sales of Vectibix got off to a speedy start by bringing in $39 million in its first quarter on the market, but Erbitux might have some more staying power against it. ImClone announced positive results of Erbitux use in first-line treatment of metastatic colon cancer, whereas interim Vectibix results in this setting, in combination with Avastin, have not been positive, with the caveats that the magnitude of the positive Erbitux results are not known until the study is presented at a medical conference in June, and that the Vectibix results are not final. As a treatment for colon cancer, both drugs are indicated to be used only as third-line treatments and have the same cancer-cell target. So whichever one can gain approval to treat the disease at an earlier stage will have a huge marketing advantage.
Of course, it's way too early to make any judgment on Icahn's rule at ImClone, and with Vectibix just completing its first quarter on the market, the competition is only going to get more intense. This year will be the real test for ImClone; 2007 will bring the announcements of trial results for both Erbitux and Vectibix, which will be going through multiple clinical trials for various uses. The results will ultimately determine each drug's presence in the market, so investors should parse over them very carefully when they come out.