BMS CEO talks up immuno-oncology space, coming hep C competition in Japan

BMS CEO Giovanni Caforio

For the second quarter, top executives from Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) on a July 23 earnings call, as usual, did not have a lot of comment on markets outside of Europe and the United States where reimbursement for its innovative drugs and pipeline are key to its business model.

Giovanni Caforio made his first earnings call as CEO and, of course, launched into immuno-oncology and spoke at length about opportunities in that space.

But it was his remarks about international operations and hepatitis C in Japan that caught some notice, especially because in May Gilead ($GILD) won reimbursement for Sovaldi in the patient market of half-million people with the type the drug treats. BMS was the first to market a next-gen hepatitis C treatment in Japan through combo NS5A inhibitor Daklinza (daclatasvir) and the NS3/4A protease inhibitor Sunvepra (asunaprevir) since last fall.

"Going forward, we expect competitive launches later this year to affect our business, particularly in Japan," Caforio said. "That said, we will continue to execute our HCD strategy, focused on addressing the needs of specific, challenging to treat HCD patient populations, which may vary by market."

Charlie Bancroft, chief financial officer, shed a bit more color on Caforio's remarks.

"Hep C sales performance in Japan were strong, but as you know the competitive landscape continues to evolve."

"Hep C will become increasingly competitive for us, particularly in Japan where we expect a significant impact in our sales going forward," he added.

- here's the release and presentation