Velcade captures blockbuster crown

It's great when a drug lives up to big sales predictions. That's why the folks at Takeda Pharmaceuticals' Millennium unit and at Johnson & Johnson are celebrating today: The blood cancer drug Velcade will top the $1 billion mark this year. That means Velcade can be officially crowned as a blockbuster.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Millennium found out Friday that Velcade's sales hit $1 billion in November. That's more than 25 percent growth for 2008. The figure includes U.S. sales, which are handled by Millennium, and overseas sales, which are J&J's purview. (J&J pays royalties on those outside-the-U.S. sales to Millennium.)

One reason Velcade leapt so far ahead this year is that the FDA broadened its use to myeloma patients who'd been newly diagnosed. Before June, the drug was approved for patients whose treatment with older, cheaper meds had failed. 

Sales next year are likely to improve in a big way, too, if that new indication continues to bear big fruit. Velcade got approval for the new use in late June, so the sales boost lasted for just a little over six months this year.

- read the WSJ story