The JPMorgan 25th Annual Healthcare Conference has been jampacked with people and presentations out of companies from Amgen ( AMGN) to Qiagen ( QGEN). For investors, sorting through all of the data and trying to figure out how to make money with it is no small feat. Therefore, rather than add to the information overload, it's best to get right down to the news you need to know. We'll start with Celgene ( CELG), where Dr. Sol Barer's presentation was heavy on cheerleading. The CEO raved about his company's achievements in 2006, all while warning that last year's revenue would be below consensus estimates, as would 2007 sales and profits. Based on the effusive commentary about Revlimid, the company's personnel and its global expansion, you'd never know those forecasts were anything to worry about. The Medicines Company ( MDCO) CEO Clive Meanwell also was upbeat in his comments, although at least he was detailing a positive development -- that the antihypertension drug Cleviprex met its primary and secondary endpoints in phase III safety trials. The presentation was also the first time the trade name Cleviprex was introduced. The drug was formerly known as clevidipine. Meanwell said that more than 30% of doctors surveyed preferred Cleviprex to current treatments based on available data. However, he cautioned that surveys don't necessarily translate to real-world results. Still, the findings were encouraging. Not surprisingly, Meanwell neglected to discuss the legislative loss the company suffered last month in its bid to get a bill passed that would extend the patent on blood thinner Angiomax.
It's Not Me, It's YouConsidering that Amgen is the world's second-biggest biotech by market cap, trailing only Genentech ( DNA), its presentation was rather plain vanilla. CEO Kevin Sharer blamed Enbrel's disappointing 10% revenue increase (through Sept. 30) on the lack of growth of the psoriasis market. Along with psoriasis, Enbrel also treats various forms of arthritis. Myriad Genetics ( MYGN) barely mentioned halting the development of a treatment for prostate cancer, instead emphasizing the strength of its molecular diagnostics business, as well as its Alzheimer's program.
Many on Wall Street seem to be expecting interim 12-month data in October on the company's large late-stage trial for the Alzheimer's treatment Flurizan. However, CEO Dr. Peter Meldrum told investors the date wasn't set in stone as the results will be released only if the drug achieves primary endpoints at a very high level of statistical confidence. I'll admit I might be playing amateur psychologist, but it was interesting to note that Meldrum looked a bit uncomfortable and, ahem, appeared to clear his throat when he was, ahem, asked about the interim data.
bullish on Charles River Labs ( CRL). Another company that I am warming to is Qiagen, whose CEO, Peer Schatz, delivered a strong presentation, discussing growth opportunities in China and the strength of his company's brand. Interesting to note was the attention commanded by Keryx Biopharmaceuticals ( KERX), a company with a $538 million market cap. Attendees at the conference were standing three deep in one of the larger ballrooms to hear CEO Michael Weiss comment on his company's prospects. Keryx is holding phase III trials for Sulonex, a treatment for diabetic nephropathy. Keryx owns 100% of the drugs it develops and claims not to be looking for any partnerships unless "a dream deal" presents itself. Meanwhile, MedImmune ( MEDI) discussed Monday's approval of refrigerated FluMist for healthy people age 5 to 49. CFO Lota Zoth said the company expects the refrigerated version to ease distribution and storage problems affiliated with the frozen product. The company hopes to receive approval and launch FluMist for children under 5 years old later this year. Zoth also highlighted the company's rich pipeline, which includes 45 compounds, 15 of which are in the clinic. Stay tuned. I'm sitting down with Keryx's Weiss and Qiagen CFO Roland Sackers this week for interviews that are scheduled to air on TheStreet.com TV.