Bristol-Myers Shares Slide as Cancer-Drug Race Intensifies

(Bloomberg) -- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.’s blockbuster cancer drug Opdivo didn’t sell as well as analysts had expected in the fourth quarter, suggesting that the drugmaker is facing increasing pressure in a competitive market for immunotherapy treatments.

  • Opdivo sales were $1.80 billion in the quarter, falling short of Wall Street’s average estimate of $1.84 billion. The company also withdrew an FDA application for another use of Opdivo in lung cancer, a key immuno-oncology field.

Key Insights

  • Bristol-Myers’s growth has been dependent on the performance of its top seller, which accounts for almost 30 percent of sales. While Opdivo has been approved to treat several forms of cancer, it’s lost some market share to Merck & Co.’s rival medication Keytruda.
  • Much of Bristol-Myers’ 10 percent sales growth in the quarter came from Opdivo and the anticoagulant Eliquis. Its older drugs, which it calls “Established Brands,” declined across the board.
  • The company’s reliance on just a handful of top-selling therapies is one reason that this month it bid $74 billion for Celgene Corp. Celgene has made a multitude of bets on experimental therapies, and has several blockbuster products of its own.

Know More

  • During a call with investors Thursday, CEO Giovanni Caforio said the Celgene deal would create the “No. 1 oncology franchise.” The combined portfolio will see near-term growth mainly driven by Celgene’s assets, he said.
  • Bristol-Myers already gave its 2019 forecast earlier this month.
  • Bristol-Myers shares were down 0.7 percent to $49.62 at 9:57 a.m. in New York on Thursday. The stock is down 4.2 percent year-to-date, compared with a 5.2 percent gain in the S&P 500.
  • For more on the fourth-quarter results, click here.

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