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Bluebird bio leans on pipeline and Zynteglo launch as revenues fall

Revenues down from last year but beat analyst expectations

bluebird bio

Bluebird bio reported a revenue decline in its recent fourth quarter results, down from $54.6m in 2018 to $44.7m in 2019.

In the fourth quarter, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech reported revenues of $10m, beating the $9.2m expected by Wall Street analysts.

However, despite higher-than-expected revenues, in comparison to the same period last year there was a drop of almost $10m, from $19.2m previously.

The entirety of bluebird’s revenues came from its collaboration, license and royalties agreements, with the company attributing the drop to a decrease in collaboration revenue from its agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Bluebird is in partnership with BMS for a BCMA-targeting cell therapy – bb2121 or ide-cel – which recently demonstrated positive top-line results in multiple myeloma.

Aside from the mixed figures, bluebird is looking forward and focusing on the launch of its recently approved beta-thalassaemia gene therapy Zynteglo (autologous CD34+ cells encoding βA-T87Q-globin gene).

The one-off gene therapy was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) last June, for patients aged 12 years and older with transfusion-dependant beta-thalassaemia (TDT) who have no matching donor for a stem cell transplant.

Zynteglo promises to permanently free TDT patients from frequent blood transfusions by restoring working copies of the β-globin gene into a patient’s own haematopoietic (blood) stem cells.

The therapy is priced at $1.8m over five years, although bluebird has set up an instalment plan with the cost paid over that duration, on an outcomes-based model where payments cease if the treatment stops working.

Despite making headway in Europe, Zynteglo – also called LentiGlobin – is not approved in the US, and bluebird announced in its Q4 results that its marketing application to the FDA has been delayed to the second half of 2020.

It will take some time for Zynteglo to begin to rake in any significant revenue, with bluebird predicting the first reimbursement from the gene therapy sometime in the next four months.

The biotech does have a significant cash stockpile of $1.24bn to keep it going in the meantime, and fund its continuing pipeline projects, which will support a number of upcoming regulatory filings.

As well as an expected filing of Zynteglo in the US this year, bluebird and BMS are expected to file bb2121 with the FDA soon, with additional approvals for Zynteglo in cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy in the EU and the US this year.

If all goes according to plan, bluebird’s top-line results are likely to improve as its products begin to launch in a number of markets.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

19th February 2020

From: Sales

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