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Bristol's Billion-Dollar Ante to Stay in the Cancer Game

Executive Summary

Bristol-Myer Squibb's deal to pay up to $2 billion for ImClone System's cancer drug, IMC-C225, should be viewed as a broad strategic move more than a product license. BMS badly needs to shore up its cancer franchise following the expiration of its Taxol patent. It paid dearly for IMC-C225, but unlike some competitors, BMS had no epidermal growth factor receptor-based drug in its pipeline. And because EGFr drugs are widely expected to achieve blockbuster status and be used in combination therapies, BMS needed one as a foundation asset around which to sell its other cancer drugs.

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Bristol-Myers's Grand Ambitions in Oncology

Bristol-Myers aims to become an oncology powerhouse in the next five years. Through M&A, alliances, and internal R&D, Bristol-Myers is building an armamentarium of oncology assets that allows it to take multiple "shots on goal." It is leveraging its past experiences in the field as it also adds new skill sets in biologics, market access, and biomarkers. But the market has become more competitive, as companies look to participate in one of the few growth areas of pharma. Bristol, like others, is carving out space in the Avastin-ineligible or -intolerant portion of the market, particularly in the gastrointestinal, colorectal, and head-and-neck cancer areas. Even if successful, current late-stage development projects aren't likely to contribute much to revenues before 2011-and oncology products have slow ramp-ups. With a patent cliff looming in 2012, the company needs new products now.

Bristol-Myers's Grand Ambitions in Oncology

Bristol-Myers aims to become an oncology powerhouse in the next five years. Through M&A, alliances, and internal R&D, Bristol-Myers is building an armamentarium of oncology assets that allows it to take multiple "shots on goal." It is leveraging its past experiences in the field as it also adds new skill sets in biologics, market access, and biomarkers. But the market has become more competitive, as companies look to participate in one of the few growth areas of pharma. Bristol, like others, is carving out space in the Avastin-ineligible or -intolerant portion of the market, particularly in the gastrointestinal, colorectal, and head-and-neck cancer areas. Even if successful, current late-stage development projects aren't likely to contribute much to revenues before 2011-and oncology products have slow ramp-ups. With a patent cliff looming in 2012, the company needs new products now.

ImClone and Bristol: The Acquisition Fight Focuses on the Erbitux Successor

ImClone chairman Carl Icahn wants Bristol-Myers Squibb to pay a lot more in order to acquire the developer of blockbuster cancer drug Erbitux. His argument: there's a lot more to ImClone than Erbitux, namely, a competitive follow-on. Bristol thinks it's already got the rights to that compound; Icahn apparently disagrees (and indeed Amgen wriggled out of a similar dispute over a follow-on with J&J). But a close reading of the Bristol/ImClone contract tends to agree with Bristol.

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