Celgene powers on toward aggressive 2017 goal

Bob Hugin

Celgene CEO Bob Hugin raised some eyebrows at the JP Morgan investor conference in January when he said the company would double sales to $12 billion by 2017. But his remarks look less like boasting with each passing earnings report as the company's small stable of drugs keeps churning out enough cash for the drugmaker to ratchet up projections.

The drugs, led by foundational product Revlimid, are doing so well that Celgene ($CELG) Thursday reported quarterly earnings that beat analysts' projections and then raised its earning forecast for the year. It now projects it will earn $5.80 to $5.90 per share, up from the $5.55 to $5.65 per share it earlier forecast, Reuters reported. Net income for the quarter was $1.11 per share up from 82 cents a share in the same quarter last year.

Revlimid, which is approved for multiple uses, was at the center of the action. Sales were up 13% for the second quarter to $1.05 billion. Last quarter it reported 16.5% growth in sales of the breakthrough blood cancer drug. The sales growth for Revlimid came from expanded market share, Reuters reported.

The company has been working hard to expand its uses, although the efforts have been mixed in recent weeks. Celgene last week said it had stopped a trial of Revlimid as a first-line treatment for elderly patients with B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL. The reason: there were nearly twice as many deaths in Revlimid patients as in control patients. But that followed late-stage trial data released the week before, which showed that Revlimid improved survival in newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients.

While Revlimid is Celgene's flagship drug, its other products also saw impressive jumps in sales. Pomalyst, which was approved by the FDA in February for treating multiple myeloma, brought in $66 million in its first full quarter. Analysts have projected it will break the $1 billion blockbuster threshold by 2016. Breast cancer treatment Abraxane saw sales rise to $155 million, up 41%. Abraxane won a new approval in lung cancer last year, a use that could add $1 billion to its sales.

- here's the earnings release
- read the Reuters story

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