BMS provides figures on Opdivo contribution from Japan in Q2 call

Bristol-Myers Squibb HQ

Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) gave a second-quarter figure on the contribution it gets from Japan-related sales via a development and commercialization partnership with Ono Pharmaceuticals, filling in a blank that was raised when the Japanese firm said in April sales were going better than expected.

Charlie Bancroft, executive vice president and chief financial officer, noted that overall Opdivo (nivolumab)‎ is just getting started in Japan. In April, Ono said overall sales for the financial year ended March 31 hit Japanese sales reached ¥21.2 billion ($204 million) in the financial year, soaring from an original estimate of ¥3.5 billion.

"The Opdivo sales in Japan  that we book is about $50 million in the quarter," Bancroft said on the July 28 call, earlier noting the Ono royalties are booked by BMS under what is called alliance revenue.

Ono has rights to Opdivo in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan and works with BMS on other drugs, including Yervoy (ipilimumab) and candidate lirilumab, with rights for the same three countries.

But as Giovanni Caforio, CEO said on the call, the actual revenues could rise sharply--a factor also highlighted by Ono in April when it forecasted sales for the current financial year to grow to ¥126 billion ($1.16 billion) for the lung cancer indication.

"We are not yet recording revenues sales as formal reimbursement has not been obtained," Caforio said. "In Japan, Opdivo became the largest oncology brand in June."

Later Caforio said that, for now, the company has avoided breaking out sales numbers by indication for Opdivo.

On the horizon, however, for those rocketing sales is a possible move by Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, reported by the Nikkei Asian Review, to limit use of certain meds such as Opdivo to patients studies show are most likely to benefit, part of a broader effort to hold a bulging drug reimbursement bill in check.

Also as expected, the news remained dour on the hepatitis C franchise in Japan.

"Regarding our hepatitis C franchise, we have seen the maturation of our business in Japan new competitive engine has significantly reduced our performance there," Bancroft said.

- here's the release

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