The past two weeks have been very good to biopharmaceutical firm ImClone Systems
ImClone's only marketed drug is the cancer treatment Erbitux, which is partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb
Considering that there are some quality-of-life issues, such as allergic reactions and rash, that can be associated with Erbitux, it is really the degree of the efficacy data from this study that matters, and not only that the trial met its primary endpoint. Just the fact that the primary endpoint of improving overall survival was statistically significant (which is all we know from this press release) for the Erbitux plus chemotherapy group versus placebo is not enough for this clinical trial to be considered a success from a marketing and sales point of view.
Any survival benefit with Erbitux's use is obviously a good thing. But a mediocre improvement on this endpoint will not drive increased patient demand for this treatment for head and neck cancer.
Sales of Erbitux were up 38% year over year to $167 million in the U.S. for the fourth quarter. We'll get the hard details and statistics from this clinical study at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in June. If the results are positive enough, then ImClone will have another catalyst to help it fend off the competition and continue the strong Erbitux sales growth seen over the past year.