Celgene emerges as biotech partnering king of 2014
- Under the leadership of SVP George Golumbeski, Celgene forged 10 licensing deals last year—more than any other biotech, according to data from Bloomberg Intelligence.
- Celgene paid $222 million in upfront payments to its smaller biotech partners—significantly more than the $70 million industry average.
- Currently, Celgene has 37 active alliances, including partnerships with companies such as Agios Pharmaceuticals, Nogra Pharma, and Acceleron Pharma.
Although Celgene is the fourth largest biotech company in the world, with seven approved drugs and a $97 billion valuation, it relies heavily on its cancer drug Revlimid (lenalidomide)—a $4.98 billion drug in 2014—for revenues. Celgene is not only aware that it needs to diversify, but Golumbeski has developed an approach to partnerships that is straightforward and quicker than most of the industry.
Apparently, investors think that Golumbeski is making the right moves; Celgene was up 58% last year. The goal of partnering with these smaller companies is to allow them to retain control over their own R&D, and then participate in the commercialization stage with the benefit of exclusive rights.
One of the most exciting developments for Celgene has been the success of GED-0301 in clinical trials. This drug is being developed by Nogra Pharma, which received a $710 million upfront cash infusion from Celgene, with the promise of $1.9 billion in milestone payments, to develop a drug for Crohn's disease. A recent placebo-controlled study showed that GED-0301 provided clinical benefit in the form of remission for up to 12 weeks, based on two weeks of treatment. Moreover, GED-0301 provided significantly better outcomes compared with placebo.
The Nogra deal has been Celgene's largest so far, and it's looking like it may very well pay off for Celgene.