Celgene Corporation (CELG), which has seen its shares drop by appromately 3.4% over the past few days, announced that it will leave no stone untuxirned to increase the awareness and understanding regarding pancreatic cancer in patients in Europe. The reiteration of the commitment to combat the dreaded disease, slated to become the third leading cause of cancer death in Europe, is a great relief to the patients.
Celgene intends to make substantial investments to develop new treatments to combat the disease. Towards achieving the objective, the biopharmaceutical company plans to conduct research (in partnerships) apart from undertaking patient support initiatives. Celgene also plans to conduct a large clinical study programme (n>4,800) in pancreatic cancer, a therapeutic area which has not seen significant progress according to results from the European Pancreatic Cancer Index (:EPCI) published on March 18, 2014.
We are positive on Celgene’s reiteration of its commitment to fight the disease in Europe through a plethora of initiatives. The disease has very few treatment options with multiple clinical trial failures. Consequently, Celgene’s commitment to develop new treatments for metastatic pancreatic cancer, which has a median life expectancy of approximately 3–6 months (post diagnosis), through extensive research, is a positive move.
Minor Scares for Celgene
Investors at the biopharma major reacted adversely to two pieces of news related to Revlimid, Celgene’s key growth engine. The news from UK followed a draft guidance issued by UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) rejecting the use of Revlimid in certain situations. UK's cost-effectiveness watchdog did not recommend the use of Revlimid in multiple myeloma patients whose disease has relapsed after being treated with Johnson & Johnson/ Takeda’s (JNJ/TKPYY) Velcade (bortezomib) and who cannot take Thalomid and for whom bone marrow transplantation is not suitable.
The other adverse update came from the U.S. and is related to a patent infringement lawsuit for Revlimid. The trial is set to commence earlier than expected. We don’t expect the above updates to be major causes of concern for the biopharma company.
Celgene carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A better-ranked stock in the biopharma space is Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ALXN). The stock carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).