The key growth driver at Celgene Corporation (CELG) is Revlimid. The drug, already available for multiple oncology indications, recorded sales of $1.2 billion in the second quarter of 2014, up 15% over the year-ago period. The drug did well both in the U.S. (up 15%) and international markets (up 17%). Revlimid is expected to register sales of $4.95 billion in 2014.
Earlier this week Celgene announced that data from a phase II study (n=64) on Revlimid (as a combination therapy) was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The open-label, single-arm study evaluated Revlimid in combination with Roche/Biogen Idec’s (RHHBY/BIIB) Rituxan (rituximab) in addition to cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin hydrochloride, vincristine sulfate and prednisone (conventional R-CHOP) as a first-line therapy in patients suffering from diffuse large b-cell lymphoma (:DLBCL). The combination of Revlimid and standard R-CHOP is known as R2CHOP. The study evaluated the efficacy of R2CHOP in the first-line DLBCL indication.
Data from the study revealed that 98% of the patients eligible for response evaluation achieved overall response while 80% attained complete response. Moreover, the rates of progression free survival and overall survival were found to be similar across the various sub types of DLBCL (germinal center B-cell (:GCB) and non-GCB) by adding Revlimid to R-CHOP.
According to the abstract, treatment with R2CHOP appears to ease the negative impact of non-GCB phenotype on patient outcome. Revlimid is also being studied as maintenance therapy in a phase III study (:REMARC) for the DLBCL indication.
We believe investor focus will remain on Celgene’s efforts to get the label of the drug expanded into the newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (:NDMM) indication. The biopharmaceutical major has filed regulatory applications in the U.S. and EU for the NDMM indication. The FDA target date is Feb 22, 2015. Successful label expansion would boost the drug’s sales potential further.
Celgene carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). A better-ranked stock in the biopharma space is Gilead Sciences (GILD), sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).