Survey the RA Treatment LandscapeDoctors expect to prescribe modest amounts of two new biologic rheumatoid arthritis drugs from Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ) and UCB over the next year, which means market share for existing drugs from Amgen ( AMGN) and Abbott Labs ( ABT) should remain relatively protected. That's headline conclusion from a survey of rheumatoid arthritis doctors published Tuesday by Sanford Bernstein. The recent launches of J&J's Simponi and UCB's Cimzia are expected to help grow the overall RA treatment market, but market share for each drug is only expected to reach 9% and 7%, respectively over the next 12 months, the Bernstein survey finds. "Adoption of the new entrants looks to be gradual, consistent with their lack of an established safety profile and challenges with formulary access," the Bernstein report says.
Celgene in ASH Abstract Spotlight(At 6:31 AM ET) Research abstracts for next month's annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, or ASH, will be posted online Tuesday at 10 a.m. EST. Investors will be particularly focused on details of a phase III study of Celgene's ( CELG) cancer drug Revlimid in newly diagnosed, or front-line, multiple myeloma patients. The key question from this study -- known as MM-015 -- is how much Revlimid does a newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patient need? Last July, Celgene announced positive top-line results from MM-015, telling investors that treatment with Revlimid plus chemotherapy followed by Revlimid "maintenance" demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival over treatment with chemotherapy alone. But MM-015 also included a third arm that treated multiple myeloma patients with a fixed, nine-month course of Revlimid plus chemotherapy. To date, Celgene has released no information about the magnitude of the benefit from this so-called Revlimid "induction only" arm. Celgene shares have been volatile of late because of worries that the benefit of Revlimid maintenance (i.e., more Revlimid) won't outweigh Revlimid induction (i.e., less Revlimid). Revlimid turned in a strong third quarter, with sales of nearly $450 million, prompting Celgene to raise 2009 sales guidance. Investors expect Revlimid sales to grow from around $1.7 billion this year to well over $3 billion in 2013-2014. To meet these expectations for high growth, however, the treatment duration of Revlimid therapy needs to grow longer, particularly for front-line multiple myeloma patients. The release of the MM-015 abstract for the upcoming ASH meeting in early December should start to provide answers to this important, "how much Revlimid?" question. Unfortunately, data from the Revlimid induction arm (nine months of Revlimid only) isn't likely to be ready until sometime later this year or next year. Still, investors are likely to take comfort in Celgene by a strong progression-free survival benefit demonstrated by Revlimid maintenance, especially if that benefit stacks up well against similar data already compiled by Velcade, a competing multiple myeloma drug marketed by Takeda.