On Thursday, biopharmaceutical firm ImClone Systems
Sales of Erbitux, ImClone's only marketed product, gained 34% year over year this quarter, but revenue was down slightly (once a one-time milestone payment from marketing partner Bristol-Myers Squibb
When Amgen's Vectibix was approved for marketing last year, many, including me, thought it would put a mighty dent in Erbitux sales. This quarter's Erbitux U.S. sales growth was by far the lowest it has been in the past four quarters, partly because of the competitive pressures of Vectibix. But with Vectibix failing to show a survival advantage in one important clinical trial with its use in colorectal cancer, and Erbitux achieving the opposite result in a similar trial, the fortunes for the two compounds are diverging.
Vectibix sales were up 31% sequentially this quarter, but ImClone is fighting back in the marketing battle. It plans to increase its own sales force that details Erbitux by more than 50% in order to drive sales growth higher.
In June, there will be an abundance of new Erbitux clinical trial data to pore over. This data is important because the future of ImClone depends on how well Erbitux can be differentiated from the other cancer compounds on the market. While the first-quarter financial results were nothing to get excited about, the future looks brighter for ImClone after all the positive clinical-stage developments this quarter.
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