Healthcare Pulse: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY), Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (VRX), and Roche Holding Ltd. (ADR) (RHHBY)

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) has inched a step closer to yet another key approval for one of its lead drugs. The Food and Drugs Agency is currently analyzing its Immuno-oncology drug Opdivo as a possible treatment for kidney cancer. A decision on the same application is expected next year March 16.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) latest application is supported by data generated in a Phase 3 study called CheckMate-O25. The company is banking on the results that showed a significant increase in overall survival in patients using the drug compared to those on standard care therapy. The study met its primary endpoint of overall survival.

Opdivo generated $305 million in the third quarter up from $122 million generated in the second quarter. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) is currently pursuing clearance in Europe as it moves to bolster the drugs overall sales. The drug has already received approval for use as a possible treatment for melanoma as well as lung cancer.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) (TSE:VRX) troubles refuse to go away even as it continues to face congressional hearings over its pricing practices. Dermatologists could deal the embattled drug maker another blow after it emerged most of them are not prescribing its drugs. The fallout could hurt the company’s sales having already severed ties with a key distribution partner.

A survey by Deutsche Bank analysts indicates that as many as 68% of dermatologists are writing fewer prescriptions for Valeant’s products. The survey carried out on 25 dermatologists who write 10 or more prescriptions indicate that most of them may end up shunning the drugs altogether in the long run.

A survey of 25 people may not portray the actual picture on the ground but does not dismiss concerns over Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX)’s drugs going forward. The Canadian company has already indicated that its total sales this year could fail to meet estimates having already ended ties with Philidor which accounted for a good percentage of its total sales.

Roche Holding Ltd. (ADR) (OTCMKTS:RHHBY)’s subsidiary has reached an agreement with Novartis AG (ADR) (NYSE:NVS) to split the ex-US rights to pegpleranib, an eye drug developed by Ophthotech. The agreement could be worth more than $1 billion according to industry sources.

Ophthotech is to retain exclusive rights to the drug in the US while Genentech and Novartis gain rights to other markets. Last year, Novartis entered into an agreement with Ophthotech Corp (NASDAQ:OPHT), consequently agreeing to pay $200 million in upfront fees for the drug. It also promised to pay $800 million in future in milestone payments.

Marketed as Fovista, Pegpleranib is currently undergoing two late-stage trials in combination with Genentech’s Lucentis. Data from the two trials should be out in the fourth quarter of next year. Ophthotech has also begun enrolling patients for a Phase III trial that matches the drug with Roche Holding Ltd. (ADR) (OTCMKTS:RHHBY)’s Avastin.

Viraj Shah

Viraj Shah has completed M.Com (Finance) and is currently pursuing his CFP. He tracks US markets along with other global markets like India very closely. He is very passionate about stocks, real estate, and technology. He also believes that money can always be made in the market.

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