Roche newcomer Tecentriq has Bristol's Opdivo bleeding lung cancer share: execs

Bristol-Myers' Opdivo lost 10 percentage points of second-line lung-cancer market share to Roche's Tecentriq in the fourth quarter.

Bristol-Myers Squibb has run up against some serious issues trying to expand Opdivo’s reach in lung cancer. In the meantime, rivals are poaching the market share Opdivo does have.

Roche’s Tecentriq, which nabbed a lung cancer indication well after Opdivo and chief rival Keytruda from Merck were already established in the second-line space, has been giving Opdivo trouble, execs told analysts Thursday.

The Roche player took 10 percentage points of Opdivo’s market share after launching in late October. That’s worrisome for Bristol-Myers, with 60% of Opdivo’s Q4 revenue coming from lung-cancer sales, Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum wrote in a note to clients.

Of course, Tecentriq isn’t the only nemesis Opdivo has to contend with. Merck’s Keytruda solidified its lead in the lung cancer space late last year, grabbing a first-line monotherapy nod after Opdivo flopped in its own monotherapy trial.

Merck recently surprised industry watchers with an early filing of its Keytruda chemo combo for first-line use. BMS execs assume it’ll win the FDA’s go-ahead, they said, and that the approval will take an 8-cent hit on Bristol-Myers' own EPS from lost off-label Opdivo sales in the front-line setting.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey pharma’s own struggles in the combo space have some analysts wondering whether AstraZeneca, which hasn’t even yet entered the market, or Roche could pass Bristol-Myers for No. 2.

The way Leerink Partners analyst Seamus Fernandez sees it, Bristol-Myers could soon have unwanted M&A attention on its list of things to worry about.

“If history teaches us anything in pharma, it is that companies suffering from short-term missteps or surprises but with great assets are more likely than not to become vulnerable M&A targets over time,” he wrote in a note to clients.