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Opdivo drives gain in BMS sales, but business revamp coming

Plans to invest in biologics production with potential divestment of older brands

BMSImmuno-oncology drug Opdivo led the charge at Bristol-Myers Squibb in the third quarter with a three-fold hike in sales, despite its recent setback in first-line lung cancer.

Group sales rose 21% to $4.9bn in the quarter, topping consensus estimates, but despite the gains BMS' chief executive Giovanni Caforio says he is planning a restructuring of its business to "focus our resources on our highest priorities, both from an R&D perspective as well as commercially".

There are few details to be had about those plans at the moment, but changes to manufacturing and administration functions appear to be on the cards. Caforio said that with 75% of BMS' pipeline now biologics, the company needs to invest in biologics production and "simplify" its small-molecule supply network.

He also suggested the company would focus its resources on core brands - with some interpreting that to mean an AstraZeneca-style divestment of older brands may be on the way - while R&D will be tweaked to "ensure speed, adaptability, and flexibility".

Opdivo (nivolumab) brought in $920m in the quarter, up from $3.5m a year ago, thanks to strong gains in melanoma, kidney cancer and second-line non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The failure in first-line NSCLC was a disappointment but "does not change our strategy," said Caforio, who pointed out that data is coming from eight potentially registrational trials for Opdivo over the next 12 months.

BMS' other growth products also contributed to the sales gains, with melanoma drug Yervoy (ipilimumab) rising 19% to $285m and Sprycel (dasatinib) for leukaemia up 15% to $472m.

Yervoy is a key element in BMS' combination therapy strategy for cancer, and the company confirmed it is looking at the possibility of an early filing for Opdivo plus Yervoy in first-line NSCLC.

Away from cancer, rheumatoid arthritis treatment Orencia (abatacept) continued its buoyant run with an 18% increase to $572m, while novel oral anticoagulant Eliquis (apixaban) brought in $884m, a rise of 90%.

BMS also raised its 2016 guidance, saying it now expects sales growth in the high teens, up from an earlier estimate of a low-double digit increase.

Article by
Phil Taylor

28th October 2016

From: Sales

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