Bristol Myers Squibb leans on long-term growth drivers, strategy overhaul to dodge IRA impacts

Facing pressure from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and falling sales for CAR-T therapy Abecma, Bristol Myers Squibb CEO Chris Boerner, Ph.D., still says the Breyanzi-maker had a "good start" with the first quarter, thanks to a 5% sales jump and $11.9 billion in total revenue. 

The company is looking to compensate for coming 2026 impact from the ongoing IRA-price setting negotiations on Pfizer-partnered blood thinner Eliquis with its growth portfolio, which includes 11 key brands.

BMS’ revenue composition is “rapidly transitioning” to favor the growth portfolio, according to a first-quarter earnings presentation (PDF). 

Looking further ahead, the drugmaker's long-term growth profile was boosted by the completion of two end-of-2023 deals to buy Karuna Therapeutics and RayzeBio. Earlier in the year, BMS also bought Mirati Therapeutics and signed a licensing deal with SystImmune. 

The crown jewel of the $14 billion Karuna deal was schizophrenia candidate KarXT, which the FDA is set to decide on in late September. BMS has repeatedly described the med as a multibillion-dollar opportunity and is already busy preparing for the launch.

In the meantime, the company is working through falling sales of CAR-T therapy Abecma, which is partnered with 2seventy bio, and upcoming IRA impacts on Eliquis. 

Abecma sales fell 56% year over year to $52 million in the U.S. and 44% year over year to $82 million worldwide. Still, recent nods in Europe and the U.S. for relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma in patients who have received at least two specific prior therapies could offer promise.

The New York pharma's other CAR-T, Breyanzi, looks set for solid growth with a much wider patient pool coming from a recent nod for previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia or small lymphocytic lymphoma and upcoming FDA decisions in follicular lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma. 

Both meds will benefit from a recently expanded partnership with South San Francisco manufacturer Cellares, reserving further CAR-T manufacturing space across the globe.

But BMS is one of many Big Pharmas that could be affected by supply disruptions from the U.S. government’s mission to crack down on relations with Chinese manufacturing firms. The company is plotting contingency plans to “protect the continuity of supply,” BMS Chief Financial Officer Davie Elkins told the Financial Times.

BMS leans on China’s WuXi Biologics to produce some of the active pharmaceutical ingredients that comprise Revlimid.

Over in the legacy portfolio, Eliquis added $7.1 billion to BMS’ total revenue. Off-patent multiple myeloma med Revlimid, meanwhile, had a 5% global decline to $1.7 billion.

With the earnings report, the company announced a “strategic productivity initiative” to save $1.5 billion by the end of 2025. The move entails a focus on R&D programs with potential for the greatest return on investment, prioritization of key growth brands and optimizing operations.

The overhaul will result in a total workforce cut to about 2,000 employees during 2024. The layoffs include teams in Washington state and staffers working on Breyanzi, Fierce Biotech reported from sources familiar with the decision.