GSK signs on to supply Provenge antigen

If you've been worried about Dendreon's ability to supply its new prostate cancer vaccine Provenge, then relax. The company has signed up GlaxoSmithKline to produce the antigen used to make Provenge, with the first delivery scheduled for August 2011.

Now, that doesn't help all the patients on Dendreon's current waiting list, but it's better than the vague, hedging-one's-bets pronouncements of increased supplies next year. The company is only able to supply 2,000 courses of treatment for Provenge's first 12 months on the market, which end in April 2011. Its first plant, now working at around 25 percent capacity, is expected to be going full-tilt sometime during the first half of next year, with construction complete on two other plants around mid-year.

The GSK supply deal is another bit of positive news for Dendreon's Provenge roll-out. The initial demand has outstripped supply, but more importantly, insurers have been deciding to cover the $93,000 cost of treatment for each Provenge patient. Yes, there's that Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services review coming up, a big hurdle for a product that's going to rely on the Medicare crowd for a lot of its sales. But CMS is now hinting that it's just a discussion of how to cover Provenge, rather than whether.

- see the Reuters story