JPM 2022: Bristol Myers plots 3 blockbuster launches to counter Revlimid's patent cliff

When Bristol Myers Squibb unveiled its massive Celgene buyout ahead of 2019's J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, executives knew Celgene's blockbuster blood cancer drug Revlimid would face generics sometime in the years that followed. In 2022, the key patent cliff is here.

Fear not, BMS CEO Giovanni Caforio assured investors on Monday. Opening the conference's 2022 edition, Caforio said the combined drugmaker has a plan to grow despite Revlimid generics, which are set to launch in Europe, Japan and the U.S. this year.

BMSl has four growth "pillars" to lean on through the end of the decade, Caforio said. Through 2025, the company expects its immuno-oncology stalwarts Opdivo and Yervoy plus blood thinner Eliquis to together chip in another $8 billion to $10 billion in annual growth. That's on top of 2020 sales of $8.7 billion for the immuno-oncology duo and $9.2 billion for Eliquis. 

Another $10 billion to $13 billion in annual sales is expected from BMS' recent and expected near-term launches, Caforio said. Those include CAR-T therapy Breyanzi, anemia drug Reblozyl and psoriasis hopeful deucravacitinib. 

By 2029, the company says its portfolio of new launches could deliver $25 billion or more. Four drugs in the group—Reblozyl, deucravacitinib, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy therapy mavacamten and immuno-oncology prospect relatlimab—could reach peak sales of more than $4 billion alone or in combinations, BMS figures.

RELATED: Bristol Myers Squibb, Amgen and Pfizer approach steepest patent cliffs among large drugmakers

Deucravacitinib has a September decision date with the FDA, while mavacamten is set for an April ruling. BMS filed its LAG3 inhibitor relatlimab as a combo with Opdivo to treat first-line metastatic melanoma, and the company expects an FDA decision on that application in March.

“This means that as the leading innovator in I-O, we are the only company with not just two but potentially now three I-O agents in our portfolio," Caforio said during Monday's presentation. Relatlimab has the potential to extend the "durability" of BMS' immuno-oncology franchise "well into the next decade," he added.

All the growth will likely come as sales for megablockbuster Revlimid slide. The multiple myeloma drug generated nearly $9.5 billion in the first nine months of 2021, and generics are set to hit the scene in key markets starting this year. For 2022, BMS expects $9.5 billion to $10 billion in sales. Each year after, the company said an annual loss of $2 billion to $2.5 billion can be expected.

Adding to that patent pain, midway through the decade, the company will also lose key patents on Eliquis and Opdivo. Despite all of the expected generic pressure, Caforio said the company's new medicines will carry the day by 2029. The CEO said he expects BMS' 2029 sales to come in higher than its 2025 revenues.

RELATED: After win at patent office, Bristol Myers inks Revlimid deal with Dr. Reddy's

Aside from its commercial and pipeline efforts, BMS doesn't plan to shy away from dealmaking. The company expects to generate $45 billion to $50 billion in free cash flow over the next three years, which “enables us to maintain a consistent, balanced approach to capitol allocation," Caforio said. The company is "size-agnostic" on deals, he added, but is "interested particularly in small-scale early science deals and mid-size bolt-on deals."