Everyone likes a good biopharma turnaround story, and ImClone Systems'
ImClone announced last week that Erbitux sales are still rising, after getting a boost from the positive data reported last year from studies testing it as a treatment for head and neck cancer, non-small-cell lung cancer, and colorectal cancer. Erbitux sales from ImClone's partners climbed a healthy 36% year over year in Q1, even with some negative wholesaler stocking effects in North America. In the same period, ImClone brought in $0.33 per share in adjusted earnings.
Unfortunately, ImClone took a big $85 million charge to its cash and investments, thanks to the collapse of the auction-rates securities market. That crunch has hit many companies, including other pharmas like Endo Pharmaceuticals
On the pipeline side of things, ImClone plans to submit a label-expansion marketing application with the FDA in this year's fourth quarter, aiming to extend Erbitux to treat non-small-cell lung cancer. Investors won't have to wait that long to see further sales growth with Erbitux, though; once it gets listed in compendiums as a treatment for lung cancer, insurers and other payors should start covering its costs.
ImClone also will treat investors to new Erbitux data on lung cancer and other indications at American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting in late May. (Abstracts for the presentations will be out May 15.)
ImClone's luck has changed dramatically in the past two years. Although plenty of risks could still crimp the company's finances, its future looks brighter than ever.
I wouldn't be surprised to see ImClone undergo the same fate as many other desirable biopharmas such as Millennium Pharmaceuticals
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