Drug Pipeline Pulse Check: Pfizer, Human Genome Sciences

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 |  Includes: ABII, ABT, FRX, GSK, PFE
by: Research Recap

PFIZER (NYSE:PFE)

A study released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology showed that Pfizer’s experimental drug – crizotinib – shrank tumors in certain lung cancer patients who were mostly nonsmokers, reported Bloomberg News.

Barclays Capital analyst Tony Butler wrote in a note to clients that if effective in larger studies, the drug could be available in 2013 and generate annual sales of $800 million. Crizotinib is among 24 new tumor-fighting medicines that New York-based Pfizer is developing to help offset the $11 billion in revenue it will start losing next year when generic copies of its cholesterol pill Lipitor enter the market.

“It’s an absolutely huge deal,” says Mark Kris, a researcher at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center who has treated patients with the drug. “This is where we want cancer therapy to go.” (USA Today)

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) is working with Pfizer to develop a test that can help doctors determine which patients are most likely to benefit from crizotinib. (TheStreet.Com)

The median price target for Pfizer’s stock by analysts is now at $21, higher than its current share price of around $15, based on data by Thomson/First Call.

HUMAN GENOME SCIENCES (HGSI)

Human Genome Sciences has applied for U.S. regulatory approval for drug Benlysta, potentially the first new treatment in decades for the hard-to-treat autoimmune disease lupus, reported Dow Jones Newswires. Analysts project that the drug’s annual sales could eventually exceed $1 billion a year, and said Benlysta may be on the market towards the end of this year or in early 2011.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) application follows a Biologics License Application filed earlier this month to Europe’s drug regulator for the treatment’s marketing approval. Benlysta, or belimumab, a partner project between Human Genome and U.K-based GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), is not approved or licensed anywhere in the world. (EuroInvestor)

In late April, the Maryland-based company received a setback when announcements came out that the lupus drug missed extended study goals. However, analysts had said the drug could still likely be approved by the FDA.

Street analysts have a median price target of $35 for Human Genome Sciences, compared to its current share price of around $26, according toThomson/First Call.

Please also see Drug Pipeline Pulse Check: Human Genome in the Spotlight

FOREST LABORATORIES INC. (NYSE:FRX)

TransTech Pharma and Forest Laboratories Holdings, a wholly owned subsidiary of Forest Laboratories Inc. entered into a license agreement for the development and commercialization of small molecule compounds discovered and developed by TransTech Pharma for the treatment of diabetes.

Forest will provide to TransTech Pharma an upfront license payment of $50 million through the license agreement, and TransTech Pharma could receive up to $1.1 billion in upfront and milestone payments for the successful development and commercialization of the compounds. (Drug News)

Forest will also pay TransTech Pharma royalties on worldwide product sales and will be responsible for development and commercialization costs. TransTech Pharma retains the rights to the Middle East and North Africa, while Forest receives exclusive rights to the rest of the worldwide market. The portfolio licensed by Forest consists of a lead compound, TTP399, which has completed Phase I studies. (PharmiWeb)

Median price target for Forest Laboratories is now at $32.50, higher than its current share price of around $26, according to Thomson/First Call.

ABRAXIS BIOSCIENCES INC. (ABII)

At the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Abraxis presented information on its phase III trial of nano-particle albumin bound driven chemotherapy, or Abraxane, in melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer that affects more than 68,000 people in the U.S. each year.

“As the body of evidence continues to build it validates our commitment to interrogating the activity of Abraxane in difficult-to-treat tumor types such as metastatic melanoma,” said Patrick Soon-Shiong, M.D., Executive Chairman and Founder of Abraxis BioScience. Melanoma is the leading cause of skin cancer death in the United States, killing more than 8,000 people annually. (PharmiWeb)

Sheena Lee