The Pharmaceutical Industry Finds Itself At A Historical Crossroads

Bristol Myers Squibb BMY, Merck & Co Inc MRK, Pfizer Inc PFE and Johnson & JohnsonJNJ are facing the so-called patent cliffs which imply revenue of tens of billions of dollars between now and and the end of this decade is at risk. The expiration of patents for one or more leading branded products for a company means opening the door to competitors to sell copycats of those drugs, often at a competitive price. But, as always, pharmaceutical companies do their best to prepare for this unfavorable scenario and this time round, they are turning to the world’s most common causes of death- cancer and heart disease.

Johnson & Johnson continues to build its heart business.

Johnson & Johnson is focusing on enhancing its cardiovascular health business in response to its blockbuster Crohn’s disease drug, Stelara, facing competition next year. On Friday, Johnson & Johnson signed a deal to get Shockwave Medical for $12.5 billion and enhance its treatment of heart disease. Similarly to how kidney stones are broken down,shockwaves can be used as a medical treatment to break down calcified plaque in heart vessels. Cardiac health has been a focus for Johnson & Johnson for a while now. Back in 2022, Johnson & Johnson spent $16.6 billion to buy heart pump maker Abiomed.

Pfizer is betting big on cancer drugs to make its post-Covid turnaround.

It’s no secret that Pfizer needs to regain its footing after a tough year that was shaped by a sharp decline of its Covid business. With its shares plummeting as much as 40% last year, Pfizer ended 2023 by successfully completing the cancer specialist Seagen, investing $43 billion to beat cancer. 

Bristol Meyers Squibb is testing a more convenient version of its oncology blockbuster.

Months after ditching an auto-injected version of Opdivo, Bristol Myers Squibb reported positive trial data measuring subcutaneous nivolumab against the standard intravenous version of the immunotherapy for advanced or metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma. With a syringe and vial to inject the drug under the skin, Bristol Myers Squibb  could end up with an extended market exclusivity. Back in October, Bristol Myers Squibb delivered promising results of the late-stage trial.

Merck is getting deeper into cancer treatment.

Merck and Moderna Inc MRNA ended 2023 with good news regarding their joint cancer vaccine and combined treatment that prevents recurrence and lowers the risk of the worst-case outcome in case of melanoma. Additionally on Tuesday, Moderna reported positive results of a small-sample trial of its experimental individualized cancer vaccine in combination with Merck-made Keytruda in treating those with head and neck cancers. Back in December, Merck and Moderna announced they will be expanding the tests of their combined treatment in combatting certain forms of lung cancer and initiated a Phase 3 trial. Back in February, Merck also revealed it expanded the clinic partnership with Adagene for colorectal cancer (CRC) treatment that includes its blockbuster drug Keytruda. Considering that colorectal cancer is third most common cancer on the planet, Merck is on the verge of opening an significant revenue door. 

A deeper push into oncology is happening across the industry.

Mainz Biomed N.V. MYNZ is a molecular genetics company specialized in diagnostic solutions for early cancer detection. Its flagship product, ColoAlert®, is an effective yet non-invasive and easy-to-use DNA-based detection test for CRC.

Mainz Biomed just summed up its 2023 fiscal year in which it reported impressive results for its ColoFuture European and eAArly DETECT U.S. clinical studies. With these two studies, Mainz Biomed reported impressive statistical significance for not only CRC detection, but also for advanced adenomas, which is a type of pre-cancerous polyp which are considered precursors to CRC. Already present across major European markets, Mainz Biomed continues to expand the international commercialization of ColoAlert®. With a strong 2023 report, Mainz Biomed is on track to commence its ReconAAsense pivotal FDA PMA study later this year. If successful, Mainz Biomed will get to set the gold standard stool-based diagnostic for this deadly disease.

All in all, these fierce pharma companies reflect an industry that is at a crossroads, balancing between securing its existence and courageously going into a scary battle to win against the world's scariest health enemy. It’s no exaggeration to say that the direction they chose, which is to revolutionize the existing healthcare treatment, has the potential to make life a whole lot brighter. 

DISCLAIMER: This content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as investing advice.

This article is from an unpaid external contributor. It does not represent Benzinga's reporting and has not been edited for content or accuracy.

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