Morgan Stanley Global Healthcare Conference Update: Lilly, Amgen and Biogen


As the Morgan Stanley Global Healthcare Conference runs from September 12 through 14, numerous biopharma companies are making presentations, updating their operations and pipeline activities. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.

Eli Lilly and Co.’s senior vice president and chief executive officer Joshua Smiley answered questions by Morgan Stanley analyst David Risinger. Unfortunately, due to compliance regulations, they weren’t able to discuss the impending spinout and initial public offering (IPO) of Lilly’s Elanco Animal Health unit. Smiley noted the company has launched nine products since 2014 and they are particularly pleased with its diabetic GLP-1 analog, Trulicity. “And we see a big opportunity in this class,” he said. “The class is growing at about 25 percent, and even with new launches and competition, we continue to see very, very strong growth in the GLPs, and in Trulicity specifically.”

Amgen’s chief executive officer, Bob Bradway, sat down with Morgan Stanley analyst Matthew Harrison. Bradway felt the company was heading into the fourth quarter in a strong position, particularly in terms of long-term growth. He was enthusiastic about Aimovig for migraine, which he said was off to a strong start “because it represents an innovative, effective way to address migraine, a disease for which there wasn’t attractive therapy otherwise available.”

He’s also bullish on their cholesterol drug, Repatha. “And of course,” he said, “we’re excited about what we see happening in our oncology portfolio, not just with Kyprolis in multiple myeloma, but with emerging data in BCMA. We’re excited about what we think we can do with bispecific for CD38 and excited about some of the other agents that we see emerging from our oncology portfolio.”

Bradway also noted Amgen has 10 biosimilars in its pipeline, three of which have been approved. “In aggregate,” he said, “they address a $65 million market opportunity for us. And so we’re excited to be able to begin launching those medicines.” He specifically mentioned Kanjinti, which is already on the market internationally, and Amgevita, its biosimilar for Humira, which is also being marketed internationally.

Biogen’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, Jeffrey Capello, was interviewed by Morgan Stanley analyst Matthew Harrison. Capello noted they were still dominant in multiple sclerosis and are very happy with the performance of Spinraza for spinal muscular atrophy. A bit unusual for Biogen, Capello placed attention on the company’s biosimilars, saying, “We’ve introduced two products now in Europe and we’ve saved the European healthcare system 800 million euros in the last 12 months with one product alone. And so we think that’s very strategic here in Europe and also potentially in the U.S. for the future for us.”

It's easy to think of Biogen as focused on MS and its high-risk focus on Alzheimer’s disease, but Capello emphasized that they are a neuroscience company, which encompasses more than those two areas, although they are very deep in those areas. “We have eight different areas; four core areas and four emerging areas,” he said, “and they’re not all going to be equal. They can’t all afford to be equal.”

So, on the emerging side, Capello cites pain, ophthalmology, acute neurology, stroke, and acute psychiatry. He feels they are going to require some decision-making on their priorities.

And no discussion with Biogen could ignore Alzheimer’s disease. On BAN2401, Capello didn’t have much to say because Eisai is their partner, and they are leading the clinical program. But Harrison wanted some insight into funding for another big Phase III program in Alzheimer’s. They currently have a large Phase III program for aducanumab, but how much will they invest in the pivotal Alzheimer’s program for BAN2401?

Capello said, “I don’t think we’re fazed about having multiple programs and funding multiple programs. With our partnership with Eisai, we each fund roughly 50 percent of those programs. So we have an opportunity to share the cost with our partner. It affords us the opportunity to do more and have more shots on goal with the view that if we end up with a couple of products that work, that’s fantastic.”

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