Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify a company's name in paragraph seven.
The public markets have yet to fully recognize that Pfizer (PFE) - Get Report has a nice recipe to win in oncology in its quest to cure cancer, the pharmaceutical company's president and general manager of global oncology told attendees of the UBS Global Healthcare Conference.
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"I'm not sure we're getting credit for oncology yet at Pfizer," Liz Barrett said at the Grand Hyatt New York on Monday. "Ibrance, yes, but we have a broad portfolio."
Pfizer's therapy for metastatic breast cancer, Ibrance, has done tremendously well and has exceeded everyone's expectations since its launch about a year ago, Barrett said. Ibrance, having already treated 28,000 patients, is the first therapy for this patient population in almost 10 years and has been tried by more than 70% of physicians, she said.
"We've looked at Ibrance as our anchor brand," Barrett said. "We've really put a lot around it."
While Ibrance has already taken the No. 1 share in the metastatic breast cancer market, Barrett stressed that there are other growth drivers in the broader oncology portfolio to pay attention to. "The business is growing overall," she said.
Among those drivers, Barrett explained, is Pfizer's partnership with Merck KGaA (of Darmstadt, Germany), which involves the development on the anti-PD-1 immuno-oncology treatment, avelumab. The collaboration has forced both companies to up its game, she pointed out, noting that the therapy can be used alone or combined with other therapies.
"We have to hold each other accountable, which is a good thing," she said. "That's really the foundation of our [immuno-oncology] strategy. Ultimately, we believe that to cure cancer you'll have to have combinations, and we feel like we have the broadest portfolio of IO compounds."
Pfizer's broad portfolio of immuno-oncology therapies and existing pipeline may also benefit the company from a pricing standpoint, she said, explaining that its access to multiple medicines will help it offer discounted bundles to prescribing physicians.
It was just last week that Pfizer agreed to spend $5.2 billion on Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc. in a move to built up its inflammation and immunology business. The deal gives Pfizer access to Crisaborole, an anti-inflammatory drug currently under U.S. Food and Drug Administration review for the treatment of mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis, or eczema.
While Barrett didn't comment on the company's M&A strategy when it comes to oncology, Pfizer is among several drugmakers that have been rumored to be weighing a bid for cancer drug maker Medivation (MDVN) . The latter is viewed as a highly sought-after asset, largely because there exist few late-stage or already-launched oncology products in the market.