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Celgene shares fall after Revlimid concerns

Celgene shares drop more than 8 per cent after data reveals increase in the risk of secondary malignancies for some patients taking Revlimid

Celgene shares dropped more than 8 per cent after data revealed an increase in the risk of secondary malignancies for some patients taking Revlimid (lenalidomide).

An increased number of cases of secondary malignancies have been found in patients receiving a maintenance dose of the myeloma treatment compared to those who received a placebo.

The data was sourced from the CALGB 1000104 study and was reported at the annual American Society of Hematology meeting in the US.

Data showed that patients taking Revlimid had a 60 per cent reduction in the risk of their disease progressing after four years. About 15 of these (6.5 per cent of patients) developed a secondary cancer – mainly other blood cancers such as myeloid leukaemia.

Only 10 of those taking a placebo (2.6 per cent of patients) developed a secondary cancer.

Celgene has defended the data stating that the stock reaction is based on investor misunderstanding.

While the data looks alarming, it falls within the expected rates of secondary malignancies in this patient group – and there is a trend of longer overall survival with Revlimid use.

It is not thought the data will affect share prices long-term.

Revlimid is approved in combination with dexamethasone for the treatment of multiple myeloma patients who have recevived at least one prior therapy. Sales rose 43 per cent in the third quarter to $641m.

7th December 2010

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