(Adds CEO comment on peak sales potential)
COPENHAGEN Feb 22 Danish biotech drugmaker
Genmab expects sales of Darzalex, used to fight cancer
in bone marrow, to surpass $1 billion this year to become a
blockbuster drug, the company said on Wednesday.
The strong performance of Darzalex, which is currently
approved to treat multiple myeloma, prompted six upward
revisions to the company's revenue and operating profit guidance
for its 2016 financial year.
The $1 billion a year required to achieve blockbuster is now
in sight, with net sales of Darzalex -- approved in November
2015 and is marketed by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) --
expected to reach between $1.1 billion and $1.3 billion this
year, up from $572 million in 2016, Genmab said.
Analyst expectations, on average, are for Darzalex to
generate as much as $1.18 billion in revenue this year and $2.53
billion by 2020, according to data from Thomson Reuters
Shares in the Danish company have surged by more than 3,200
percent in the past five years as it has morphed from a
cash-burning operation into a profitable business with actual
drugs on the market.
Genmab receives tiered royalties from J&J on its sales and
expects to receive Darzalex royalties of between 930 million
Danish crowns and 1,100 million crowns ($132 million-$156
million) and 800 million crowns in milestone payments this year.
Operating income for 2016 came in at 1.1 billion crowns and
is expected in the range of 900-1,100 million crowns in 2017.
With a market capitalisation of $12 billion, Genmab is
Europe's second-biggest biotech company behind Actelion
, although both still lag well behind the likes of U.S.
groups Gilead, Amgen and Celgene.
However, Genmab's chief executive Jan van de Winkel believes
that Darzalex has the potential to achieve peak annual sales as
high as $13 billion if the drug is approved for a wider range of
"It could work in other blood cancers as well as in solid
tumours. So that means $13 billion potential if it would work in
all the indications," van de Winkel told Reuters.
He acknowledged that $13 billion would be the most rosy
scenario but said that Darzalex could "definitely" achieve more
than $9 billion.
($1 = 7.0497 Danish crowns)
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and