Drug companies with just one major drug fascinate me. They're not full-fledged pharmaceutical companies, but they've got the FDA stamp of approval that their developmental-stage brethren so desperately seek.
Let's take a look at a few and the songs they sing.
"Video Killed the Radio Star" by the Buggles
Trying to come up with new drugs that work better than those already on the market is tough work. Even the best-designed drugs run into issues with safety and efficacy.
Rather than fight an uphill battle, Abraxis Bioscience
Abraxis' only drug, Abraxane, is an albumin-coated version of paclitaxel, the active ingredient in Bristol-Myers Squibb's
"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor
After Tysabri was pulled from the market in 2005, Elan's
Just like Rocky, Elan is a survivor, and that bodes well for the other drugs in its pipeline.
"It Takes Two" by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock
Byetta was diabetes drugmaker Amylin Pharmaceuticals'
Ultimately, Byetta's sales will top out as the injectible drug competes against oral medications. That's why partners Eli Lilly
Symlin could also make a comeback. It's a component of Amylin's weight-loss treatment, which looked good in its phase 2 trial. There's a huge market for weight-loss drugs, which could make things go right in the long term. Heck, it could even make them outta sight.
"I'm Too Sexy" by Right Said Fred
Unlike all the previous companies mentioned, Onyx Pharmaceuticals
After working well in kidney cancer and the hard-to-treat liver cancer, it looked like Onyx's Nexavar was a miracle drug pushing the company into the black for the first time. But then, Nexavar failed to show an effect in its clinical trial for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), leading some to believe that Nexavar may be too sexy for its own good.
Onyx does have a chance to take another turn on the catwalk. It's currently testing Nexavar in multiple phase 2 trials for breast cancer (a very large market) and has a planned trial to test it in combination with surgery for liver cancer. If either of those can prove successful, they'll act as makeup to cover up its NSCLC blemish.
"I Wanna Be Rich" by Calloway
Calloway's 1990 hit could be the theme song of each of these companies as they strive to transform from being unprofitable to rock-star pharmaceutical companies, but it should also be the anthem of investors as they try to decide whether to invest in these companies or not.
Ultimately, the companies' potentials rely more on their pipeline of future drugs than whether they can increase sales of their current drug -- pipeline-less Onyx being the exception. Whether these one-hit wonders become big stars and grow into the next Gilead Sciences or become takeover targets, never to be heard from again, really depends on their ability to push out more drugs.
Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., believes he has destroyed all evidence of his performance of the Macarena. He doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. The future of the Fool's disclosure policy is so bright it has to wear shades.