Could J&J's Darzalex success spur it to buy out partner Genmab? Maybe so, one analyst says

Darzalex
Johnson & Johnson's Darzalex has grown quickly in the multiple myeloma arena.

Wednesday, multiple myeloma med Darzalex hit a development milestone, triggering a $20 million payment from Johnson & Johnson for Genmab. But the way one analyst sees it, the Big Pharma may eventually tire of shelling out payments and take matters into its own hands.

Bernstein’s Wimal Kapadia sees “takeout potential” in Genmab’s future, he wrote in a note to clients earlier this month. And following Wednesday’s big Genmab payday, he surmised that J&J could feel inclined to strike a deal for its partner.

“You never know if J&J feels an itch and decides they no longer want to pay a royalty,” he wrote in a research note.

Johnson & Johnson has stayed mum on the matter, with Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels telling Reuters only that Genmab doesn’t “need us to be successful.”

And Genmab CEO Jan van de Winkel, for his part, agrees. "Our focus is to build an independent antibody innovation powerhouse,” he told the news service, adding that “we think we can create more value for our stakeholders by staying independent than being a part of a larger entity.”

RELATED: J&J finally grabs Actelion's marketed meds for $30B, with R&D spinoff to come

Of course, van de Winkel isn’t the first European biotech chief to sing that tune; Actelion insisted it was better off alone for years before finally selling its marketed meds to the New Jersey giant earlier this year.

The way he sees it, though, that deal—which starred Actelion’s pulmonary arterial hypertension therapies—was borne of a need to fill the gaps in J&J’s top line left by Remicade biosimilars.

"They needed to replace that income and that is exactly what the Actelion products will do. That is a completely different reason, I think, from potentially looking at a company like ours," van de Winkel said.

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson nabs another combo approval for myeloma star Darzalex

Meanwhile, Darzalex is proving its worth for both drugmakers. Genmab’s $20 million bump came thanks to positive results for the hot seller in its phase 3 study in rare disease amyloidosis—its first outside the multiple myeloma arena.

Kapadia expects peak sales of the therapy to hit $10.3 billion after becoming “a backbone therapy across all lines” of myeloma treatment,” he wrote. His figures are ahead of consensus estimates, which peg peak sales potential at $8.5 billion.