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BMS lifted by new products

Published on 28/04/15 at 05:08pm
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New drugs have helped Bristol-Myers Squibb see a slight increase in sales for the first quarter of 2015.

Total revenues were $4 billion, up 6% from the same period last year, and several key new products saw strong growth.

Anticoagulant Eliquis (apixaban), which is co-marketed with Pfizer, more than tripled its sales figures to bring in $355 million in revenue. The drug was recently approved by NICE to treat venous thromboembolism (VTE), deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism.

Two cancer immunotherapies, Yervoy (ipilimumab) and Opdivo (nivolumab), also saw strong sales. Yervoy’s revues were up 20% from Q1 2014 to $325 million, while Opdivo – which this week earned a recommendation from the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) – brought in $40 million.

BMS has been making a big drive into immuno-oncology recently, which also includes the $1.25 billion purchase of biotech Flexus, a $309 million deal with Rigel Pharmaceuticals to acquire worldwide rights to some of its treatments, and purchasing the option to Bavarian Nordic’s prostate cancer immunotherapy Prostvac (rilimogene galvacirepvec/rilimogene glafolivec).

However Yervoy has been beaten on survival rates in clinical trials by Merck’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab), which recently became the first treatment approved through the UK’s new Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS).

Revenues for the company’s best-selling product, schizophrenia and bipolar drug Abilify (aripiprazole), were up 3% to $554 million – but the medicine is set to start facing generic competition after May, and competitor drugs have already been recommended for approval by the CHMP.

The company’s new hepatitis C (HCV) franchise brought in $264 million. The franchise is centered around Daklinza (daclatasvir), which BMS recently resubmitted to the FDA. It had originally withdrawn its application due to the amount of competition it would have in the rapidly-expanding HCV market – but changed its mind after realising the product could fill a niche for HCV genotype 3 patients.

“We have started the year off with strong sales among new and inline brands,” says Lamberto Andreotti, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s chief executive, “including Yervoy, Eliquis, our hepatitis C franchise and Opdivo.

“We continued to advance our pipeline with key regulatory and clinical progress across our portfolio and invested in several important business development opportunities that will help strengthen our future portfolio.”

Other deals for the firm this quarter include a $100 million gene therapy development agreement with uniQure, and acquiring an exclusive global license to Novo Nordisk’s research programme for modulating the immune system as a therapy for autoimmune diseases.

George Underwood

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