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Momenta Pharmaceuticals Wants to Be the "Humira of the FcRn Space"

Brian Orelli, The Motley Fool

With sales of Momenta Pharmaceuticals' (NASDAQ: MNTA) generic drugs failing to cover expenses, the biotech's earnings releases have focused on its pipeline of novel drugs, which will take a few years to start generating revenue.

Momenta Pharmaceuticals results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q1 2019

Q1 2018

Year-Over-Year Change

Revenue

$4.11 million

$4.85 million

(15%)

Income from operations

($48.1 million)

($49.0 million)

N/A

Earnings per share

($0.46)

($0.63)

N/A

Data source: Momenta Pharmaceuticals.

What happened with Momenta Pharmaceuticals this quarter?

  • Product revenue from sales of Glatopa, the generic version of Teva Pharmaceutical's (NYSE: TEVA) Copaxone, by Momenta's partner, Novartis (NYSE: NVS), decreased year over year as the drug faces continued competition. The companies also have to pay a royalty to Teva as part of a legal settlement.
  • Research and development revenue increased year over year, although it was only $1.8 million (compared to $1.3 million a year ago).
  • At the American Association for Cancer Research meeting, Momenta presented preclinical data showing that its Fc multimerization technology can increase the potency of antibody drugs targeting CD38 and CTLA-4.
  • In March, the company published preclinical data demonstrating that M281 can block antibody transfer across the human placental lobule. The drug is currently being tested in a phase 2 study for hemolytic disease of the fetus and newborn, in which maternal antibodies pass through the placenta and attack the red blood cells of the fetus.
  • Momenta ended the quarter with $416.5 million in the bank, a decrease of $33 million from what it had at the end of the year, providing a substantial runway to develop its pipeline.
Doctor talking to a pregnant patient

Image source: Getty Images.

What management had to say

Momenta's president and CEO, Craig Wheeler, noted that M281 isn't the only drug targeting neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn). But he sees plenty of room for multiple drugs targeting FcRn, just as there is for anti-inflammatory drugs targeting TNF (tumor necrosis factor):

I know it is not lost on our investors that the FcRn space is a competitive field. Our strategy from the start has been to develop a best-in-class product. We believe this is a category that, similar to the TNF antagonist space, we'll have multiple approved competitors. Our goal is to be the Humira of the FcRn space.

Looking forward

In addition to M281, Momenta is developing M254 for a blood disorder called immune thrombocytopenia. It will likely read out phase 2 proof-of-concept data in the first half of 2020 -- likely before proof-of-concept data for M281, which is due in the second or third quarter of 2020.

There's also M230, which is partnered with CSL; that's in a phase 1 clinical trial, which should be completed this year.

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Brian Orelli has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Momenta Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.