3 Biotechs With the Biggest and Most Promising Pipelines

Published: Feb 20, 2017

3 Biotechs With the Biggest and Most Promising Pipelines February 16, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

CHICAGO – Drug development is an exciting innovation and is the force that drives most pharmaceutical companies. The success and failure of these innovations certainly has an impact on stock prices, which is why it’s important for investors to pay attention to company pipelines.

Writing in the Motley Fool, analyst Keith Speights highlights three drug companies, Celgene, Ionis and Ligand, as companies that have pipelines “among the best of all biotechs.”

1. Celgene

For Speights, New jersey-based Celgene is an exciting company to watch. He said it has 15 late-stage programs in its pipeline, plus two waiting for regulatory approval. Celgene’s powerhouse pipeline includes multiple myeloma drug Revlimid and two others that have seen exponential sales growth—Otezla and Pomalyst. Sales of Revlimid grew 20 percent in 2016, raking in about $7 billion. Otezla generated $1.2 billion and Pomalyst brought in about $1.7 billion.

Celgene has several potentially strong revenue generators in development as well, including Crohn’s disease treatment mongersen and MS drug, ozanimod. Mongersen is also in a mid-stage study for ulcerative colitis and ozanimod is also being explored as a potential treatment for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s.

Not only though is Celgene conducting its own R&D, the company is well-known for partnering with other biotechs on drug development, which gives it more shots on goal. One partnership with Acceleron Pharma for luspatercept, predicts the drug could generate about $2 billion in annual revenue if it’s approved for beta-thalassemia and myelodysplastic syndromes.

Shares of Celgene are down this morning, trading at $119.44.

2. Ionis

For Speights, Ionis Pharmaceuticals has three drugs in its pipeline that could be “game-changers.” He pointed to the experimental Volanesorsen, which is being studied for the treatment of the rare genetic disorders familial chylomicronemia syndrome (FCS) and familial partial lipodystrophy (FPL). If approved for treating FCS, Volanesorsen could bring in strong revenue as there is no currently approved treatment in the United States, Speights said.

In addition to Volanesorsen, Ionis is developing IONIS-TTR Rx for treatment of familial amyloid polyneuropathy and plazomicin, “a late-stage study targeting treatment of multidrug-resistant gram-negative bacterial infections.”

Ionis also has 13 mid-stage drugs in its pipeline, which target diverse indications, Speights said.

Like Celgene, Ionis is no stranger to developing strong partnerships with other pharma companies. Last year the company received a $75 million payment from Biogen for successful Phase III data of their joint investigational treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, which was approved in December.

Shares of Ionis are trading at $46.58 as of 10:33 a.m.

3. Ligand

Although considerably smaller than Celgene and Ionis, Ligand Pharmaceuticals has a pipeline of seven late-stage candidates and 20 mid-stage candidates, Speight said. In his column he points to SAGE-547, a drug Ligand has partnered with Sage Therapeutics to develop. The drug is involved in two studies to treat “super-refractory status epilepticus and another targeting treatment of postpartum depression,” Speights said. He called SAGE-547 one of the most promising candidates for Ligand.

Shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals are trading at $103.26.

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