Celgene gets disappointing Abraxane data

After lifting its earnings projections three times in 2010, Celgene ($CELG) is now saying fourth-quarter numbers will miss the mark. But the real disappointment was Abraxane, the drug Celgene bought in its $2.9 billion acquisition of Abraxis BioScience. CEO Robert Hugin told the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference that the drug didn't significantly boost progression-free survival in a lung cancer trial.

Celgene is not only looking to boost sales of Abraxane for breast cancer, but to also expand use of the drug to other indications. Despite the less-than-stellar interim results from this lung cancer trial, the company still expects strong enough data to file for that indication in the second half of this year.

Like its fellow drugmakers in this patent-cliff era, Celgene is trying to make up the difference in sales lost to new generic competition. For instance, the company expects copycat versions of its drug Vidaza to hit in the middle of this year; it's planning to release an authorized generic to try to keep some of its sales.

Despite the impending loss of Vidaza exclusivity, the company predicted 2011 earnings of $3.30 to $3.35 per share on revenues of up to $4.5 billion. Its blood cancer drug Revlimid grew by an estimated 44 percent to $2.47 billion in 2010, and Hugin said Celgene would continue to push that drug, in part by expanding internationally and expanding it into new diseases. The company also hopes to win approval for earlier use in multiple myeloma.

- read the Wall Street Journal story