Celgene Corporation (CELG)’s Abraxane: A Therapy for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer?

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG)’s Abraxane is primarily used to treat breast and lung cancer. It is a very lucrative drug for the company with almost half a billion dollars in sales last year alone. It is prospectively going to become even more lucrative as studies are ongoing to see if the drug is also effective against pancreatic tumors. The FDA has also granted Abraxane priority review instead of the normal review period that takes four months to study its potential in advanced pancreatic cancer therapy.

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG)

This drug has already shown upward sales trend in treating metastatic breast cancer, and is expected to grow further with recent approval for non-small-cell lung cancer therapy. For the last three years, Abraxane has been reporting significant growth in sales volume both in the U.S. and internationally. In addition, if it becomes an approved product candidate for pancreatic cancer after the priority review, sales will grow even more this fiscal.


Pancreatic cancer market

Pancreatic cancer is as deadly as any other cancer. Readers will recall that Steve Jobs died of this disease — from a rare form of it, a neuroendocrine tumor. Worryingly, the death rate has been slowly increasing among both men and women compared to other cancers. According to an American Cancer Society Surveillance Research, in 2013, U.S. pancreatic cancer incidence rate increased by 0.9% per year among men and remained stable for women during the last 10 years (2000-2009). The mortality trends also rose during the same period, with an increase of 0.5% per year for white men and women, and by 1% per year for Asian American and Pacific Islander men.


Most pancreatic cancer patients die within the first year of diagnosis due to lack of early diagnosis and primary prevention methods. Five year survival rate has jumped to only 6%, and surgery is the only perfectly curative option available. Till date, the primary cause of pancreatic cancer is not yet identified though factors like obesity, cigarette smoking, and other forms of tobacco consumption are likely to blame. Tumor growth generally happens on both exocrine (produce digestive enzymes) and endocrine (produce insulin) glands; however, exocrine tumors alone represent around 95% of cases.

Competitor landscape

With increasing unmet needs, most companies are focusing on developing novel drugs to treat pancreatic cancer along with chemotherapy. Currently, a few FDA approved drugs such as Sutent (Pfizer), Afinitor (Novartis), Tarceva (Roche), and Gemzar (Eli Lilly) are already available for the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer.


Product candidates



Sutent Pfizer
Advanced pancreatic
neuroendocrine (pNET)
Afinitor Novartis pNET Marketed
Tarceva+Gemzar Roche & Eli Lilly Metastatic pancreatic cancer Marketed
Folfirinox Combined therapy Advanced pancreatic cancer Marketed
CO-101 Clovis Oncology Pancreatic cancer Failed
TH-302 Threshold Pharmaceuticals Advanced pancreatic cancer Phase III
TH-302+Gemzar Threshold & Eli Lilly Advanced pancreatic cancer Phase III
Abraxane Celgene Non-small cell lung cancer
Metastatic breast cancer
Abraxane Celgene Advanced pancreatic cancer Phase III
Abraxane+Gemzar Celgene & Eli Lilly Advanced pancreatic cancer Phase III

Competitive landscape

Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY)‘s Gemzar is the primary product in the market right now. Coupled with Roche‘s Tarceva, this is a treatment that gives best results in the current scenario.

In advanced pancreatic cancer, Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) also competes with Sutent from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and Afinitor from Novartis AG (ADR) (NYSE:NVS).

Novartis AG (ADR) (NYSE:NVS) has a group of oncology products for the treatment of cancer. Afinitor is a marketed medicine used to treat an advanced pancreatic disease called pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pancreatic NET) in adults. Afinitor reported sales of $303 million, up 114% in constant currency, due to increased volume growth across all indications including pancreatic NET therapy.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) also develops and markets medicines for the treatment of cancer. Sutent is an oncology product primarily used to treat pancreatic NET tumor that have progressed and cannot be treated with surgery. In first quarter of 2013, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) reported sales of $13.5 billion, down 9% year over year, resulting from the loss of exclusivity of Lipitor in 2012 and the impact of purchasing patterns of Prevnar/Prevenar 13 in various markets. Adjusted diluted EPS was $0.54, down 5% compared to the same period last year. During the first quarter, Sutent reported sales of $302 million, a marginal growth of 1% year over year.

Celgene’s prospects for Abraxane

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) is already in the competitive market with Abraxane, currently targeting breast and lung cancer, likely to be part of pancreatic cancer therapy in coming years. The company also announced Abraxane’s therapeutic properties in pancreatic cancer therapy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium Annual Meeting. As per the study, Abraxane, along with Gemcitabine, demonstrated statistically significant results in survival of patients suffering from metastatic pancreatic cancer compared to Gemcitabine alone.

Abraxane continued a significant sales growth of $123 million in 1Q13, up 18% YoY compared to the same period last year; due to increased sales volume in both the U.S. and international markets. The increase in domestic sales was due to higher sales for non-small cell lung cancer therapy during 4Q12.


Furthermore, Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) reported net product sales of $1.43 billion in 1Q13, up 15% compared to the same period in 2012; primarily driven by increased sales of Revlimid, Vidaza, and Abraxane. Adjusted net income in 1Q13 was $592 million, or $1.37 diluted per share, up 22% compared to $484 million in 1Q12. Also, adjusted diluted earnings per share increased 27% from $1.08 to $1.37 for the same period.

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG), offering a wide range of products in cancer therapies, is an investor favorite. With the new prospects of Abraxane in the pancreatic cancer market, Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) will definitely enhance its product pipeline as well as sales growth in future.

The article Celgene’s Abraxane: A Therapy for Advanced Pancreatic Cancer? originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Kanak Kanti De.

Kanak Kanti De has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Celgene. Kanak is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network — entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

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