Boosted by Celgene’s cash, BMS bounces back after mega-merger

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $74 billion mega-merger with Celgene seems to have been vindicated after a set of glowing full-year results from the previously struggling pharma.

Analysts had not factored in the merger to their estimates – but nevertheless the performance in Q4, which included around a month of extra revenue from Celgene, demonstrated the strength of the new company.

Shares in the company were up more than 2% at close of play following the announcement of the results, with Q4 revenues up 33% compared with the same period last year to $7.9 billion.

The results included over a month’s worth of revenues from Celgene, and revenues increased by $1.97 billion year over year in Q4.

A substantial amount of this was down to Celgene’s top five drugs – and without the merger BMS would have struggled to match Wall Street estimates.

The story was not so good from BMS’ important cancer immunotherapy, Opdivo, which is struggling amid strong competition from the likes of Merck & Co’s Keytruda and Roche’s Tecentriq.

Sales of Opdivo were down 2% in Q4 compared with last year, generating revenues of just over $1.76 billion.

BMS hopes for a better performance in 2020 from Opdivo – the FDA has agreed to a fast review of Opdivo and BMS’ other immunotherapy Yervoy in first line non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), and is due to make a decision on or before a deadline of 15th May.

This indication is important as Keytruda is established as standard of care in first line NSCLC, making billions for Merck & Co as well as blocking use of other immunotherapies further down the line.

In Europe, BMS had to withdraw an NSCLC filing last week for Opdivo and Yervoy as regulators were unhappy with changes to a protocol from the CheckMate-227 trial that formed the basis of the filing.

BMS is instead planning to file for Opdivo and Yervoy, plus limited dose chemotherapy, to be used in untreated NSCLC in Europe based on results from another study, CheckMate-9LA.

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.