A recent article, posted here on Seeking Alpha, shed some light on Merck's (MRK) dwindling oncology franchise. The contributor offered solutions by listing several targets that could potentially steer Merck's oncology division in the right direction. Given my position in Inovio (INO) and their earlier relations to the large pharma, I decided to speculate on the possibility of these two companies working together again. Who knows, perhaps Inovio's consistent immune responses in its cancer trials may be the future growth catalyst Merck is seeking to remain relevant in the oncology field.
Merck feeling the effects of generic competition
In 2012, only 3% of Merck's $47 billion revenue came from cancer related drugs. Its two commercialized oncology products, Temodar and Emend, are victims of the patent expiries looming over the pharmaceutical sector. For the first quarter of 2013, Temodar, a treatment for brain tumors, saw a decline of 9% in comparison to the 2012 sales. This slump was a reflection of generic competition in Europe, as Temodar lost patent exclusivity in the EU during 2009. In August 2013, generic manufacturers may launch their own version of the brain cancer treatment in the US which will significantly erode Merck sales. Similarly, Emend, a preventive treatment of chemo-induced nausea and vomiting, will be facing a patent expiry in 2015. Combined, Merck could stand to lose over $1 billion in sales if it does not act accordingly. The need for a future catalyst capable of restoring the giant pharma's position in the oncology sector is evident.
Merck's area of interest will presumably include a firm that's developed an immunotherapy platform, as this is the current treatment being used on oncology patients. The company may have several options: acquire a late stage pharma that has presented clinical benefits nearing commercialization, or propose a partnership deal with an early stage biotech oozing with potential. As Amgen's failed $10 billion bid for Ony
INO is entering the new era on their patent technology vaccine. It's obviously better than other companies out there. We just need a little boost to get to the top. MERCK & Microsoft's Gate Foundation seems like the right people. We should see INO positive trend in a year or two. Long INO!
Sentiment: Strong Buy
was really hoping to get more shares on Friday when I have access to some more cash. INO will be up another 20 cents by then with this article. O'well, not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The awesome part is that the article not only shows on Yahoo's Headlines under INO but also under Merck's! Imagine all those that read Merck's headlines on a daily basis and have never heard of INO...until now! Great exposure!!