New Celgene drug packs punch for multiple myeloma market

The FDA approved Celgene's Pomalyst for multiple myeloma.--Courtesy of Celgene

The market for multiple myeloma drugs has been forecast to grow 60% by 2021, reaching more than $7 billion from about $4.4 billion. That growth will be powered by approvals of new therapies to supplement drugs like Takeda's market-leading Velcade and Celgene's Revlimid. With the FDA's approval of a new treatment from Celgene ($CELG), the second treatment approved in 7 months for the blood cancer, that expansion is set to speed up.

The agency on Friday gave an accelerated nod to Celgene's Pomalyst, or pomalidomide, as a new oral treatment for patients with multiple myeloma that has resisted two or more prior treatments. In July, the agency approved Kyprolis (carfilzomib) from Onyx Pharmaceuticals ($ONXX), also for cases in which prior treatments have stopped being effective. Like Kyprolis, the FDA said Pomalyst was given orphan drug designation. The company said it will be priced at $10,500 monthly, slightly higher than the $9,950 per month charged for Kyprolis. 

The approvals not only expand the options for patients, but they also are expected to quickly expand the sales for both Takeda's blockbuster Velcade, the current market leader for multiple myeloma, and Celgene's Revlimid, according to Decisions Resources. "Although both Revlimid and Velcade will experience greater uptake in combination with emerging therapies, Revlimid will benefit most in terms of sales," Decision Resources Analyst Khurram Nawaz said in the October report. Takeda is working on a successor to Velcade.

Some analysts have forecast Pomalyst sales to reach $1.1 billion in 2017. Revlimid, Celgene's best-seller, last year had sales of $3.8 billion, Bloomberg reports. As FierceBiotech reports, Celgene CEO Bob Hugin has factored Pomalyst as a key in his equation for doubling revenue to $12 billion by 2017 for the company.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee told Bloomberg that he expects doctors to move patients back and forth between Kyprolis and Pomalyst, and in some cases prescribe a combo of the two, enhancing the sales of both.

- here's the FDA release
- read the Bloomberg story