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The Biotech Academy Awards

By Brian Lawler - Updated Nov 15, 2016 at 1:06AM

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With the Academy Awards upcoming, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at who's nominated in the biotech industry. OK, those awards don't yet exist, but let's hand out some biotech Oscars for last year's performances anyway.

The Biotech Best Picture award goes to ...
Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), for its performance in 2006. This past year was another year of spectacular growth for Celgene, as investors watched their shares rise nearly 80%.

Why caused the pop? After gaining marketing approval for its multiple myeloma drug Revlimid at the end of 2005, it went on to increase sales 67% in 2006. Celgene also expanded the marketing labels for both Thalomid and Revlimid, which should drive sales growth for years to come.

The Biotech Best Emerging Star award goes to ...
Vertex Pharmaceuticals
, for giving investors initial glimpses of the blockbuster potential of its hepatitis C treatment, telaprevir, last year.

Before last year, Vertex was a just biopharma with a good story, a smart scientific team, and a modestly successful treatment for HIV. After showing repeated positive clinical trial results in several phase 1 and 2 trials for telaprevir, though, Vertex has proved that it has marketable compound on its hands -- barring any unexpected adverse events popping up in later studies of the drug.

The Biotech Best Drama award goes to ...
Elan
(NYSE:ELN) and BiogenIdec (NASDAQ:BIIB), for reintroducing Tysabri in the United States during the third quarter and receiving European Union marketing approval as well.

The prologue to this drama actually dates back to 2005 when partners "voluntarily" pulled their multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri from the market over safety concerns. The companies then spent the next several months evaluating the safety of the drug and after a thorough review, resubmitted an application to the FDA to bring Tysabri back on the market.

Many investors probably got tired of waiting for this cliffhanger story to hit the big screens last year while the FDA dragged its feet on a decision. Eventually, however, it approved Tysabri for a second time and with a unanimous advisory panel vote in favor of the drug.

This saga, however, is certainly not over. Investors must wait to find out whether Tysabri will be able to produce the sort of blockbuster sales that were possible before the drug was originally pulled from the market.

The Biotech Best Comedy award goes to ...
Imclone
Systems (NASDAQ:IMCL), for its handling of its operations and finances. Although the voting was close between Imclone and Encysive Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ENCY) for its travails in trying to get its hypertension drug Thelin approved in the United States, Encysive has at least secured Thelin approval in the European Union and possible U.S. approval this year.

Imclone's comedy began with the Martha Stewart insider trading scandal. The company added to its comedic routine in 2006 after first putting itself up for sale and then rejecting a $36 a share offer from an undisclosed company after it couldn't secure shareholder Carl Icahn's approval. Shares are currently trading 18% below that $36 a share offer.

Not willing to let the laughs end there, Imclone then lost a patent infringement dispute over some of its key Erbitux patents and has had a revolving door at some of its key executive management positions.

With increased competition for Erbitux coming from Amgen and investors waiting to see what Carl Icahn will do as chairman of Imclone's board, 2007 may be another year of high comedy for Imclone followers.

The Biotech Best Supporting Partnership award goes to ...
Danish biotech Genmab for the $2.1 billion development and commercialization deal that it signed with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) for one of Genmab's novel cancer treatments.

Not only did this deal bring in more than $100 million in upfront cash to Genmab but also it is potentially the biggest partnership agreement ever for an individual drug, if Genmab receives all the possible $2.1 billion in milestone payments for commercialization of the compound in various disorders.

The Biotech Lifetime Achievement award goes to ...
Genentech
(NYSE:DNA) for surpassing Amgen as the largest biotech by market capitalization in 2006. It achieved this feat last year by getting its macular degeneration treatment Lucentis approved for marketing, along with eight other FDA approvals. Revenue climbed 40% for the year, and Genentech pumped up its pipeline with seven new compounds.

Ready to see who's got a head start on winning next year's Biotech Academy Awards? Simply click here to take a look our market-beating Motley Fool Rule Breakers growth investing service free for 30 days. There is no obligation to subscribe, and you'll have immediate access to all of the biotech stocks we're currently recommending.

Fool contributor Brian Lawler has never won an Academy Award but wouldn't mind meeting past presenters like Scarlett Johansson and Elizabeth Hurley. He does not own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Vertex and Encysive are Rule Breakers recommendations. Biogen Idec is a Stock Advisor pick. GlaxoSmithKline is an Income Investor selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Celgene Corporation Stock Quote
Celgene Corporation
CELG
GlaxoSmithKline plc Stock Quote
GlaxoSmithKline plc
GSK
$43.63 (-2.42%) $-1.08
Biogen Inc. Stock Quote
Biogen Inc.
BIIB
$195.71 (-3.54%) $-7.19
Elan Corporation Limited Stock Quote
Elan Corporation Limited
ELN

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