Zach Wohlberg

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Zach is currently studying Finance at the University of Maryland and is originally from Stamford, CT. He is most interested in public markets and Macroeconomic trends.

Morgan Stanley Provides a Glimpse into its Global Healthcare Conference: Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD), Biogen Inc (BIIB), Celgene Corporation (CELG)

Last week, representatives from some of the largest healthcare companies in the world flocked to New York City to participate in Morgan Stanley’s Global Healthcare Conference. The conference gave these companies an opportunity to discuss recent developments as well as their future plans for medicine. Among those in attendance at the conference were Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD), Biogen Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB), and Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG).

The representative at the conference for Gilead was CEO John Milligan. Analyst Matthew Harrison noted that Milligan made it a priority to emphasize Gilead’s new goal for the core of its business to hinge upon its HIV products, with TAF and the bictegravir-based triple leading the way.

Regarding Gilead’s other products, Harrison added that its HCV product is on the decline, but has yet to reach all of its potential users. The analyst also conveyed that during the conference, Milligan expressed “that the best way forward is to do a series of deals over time to try and bring assets as best we can to help augment the pipeline.” The CEO didn’t rule out a large transaction, but he acknowledged, “it isn’t the preferred way forward.”

Harrison also went into detail about what type of deal Milligan anticipates Gilead will participate. He feels strongly about NASH, Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, as a key pipeline area that doesn’t need any more deals. On the other hand, he would like to add a “beachhead asset” to oncology and he plans to continue to look at external options regarding inflammation.

Harrison also recapped CCO of Biogen Michael Vounatsos’ discussion regarding Biogen’s expansion plans. The company currently is prioritizing eight markets instead of turning its attention to global expansion. China is currently not included in these eight, but Vounatsos conceded that management might consider expansion into China in the future. The analyst stated that Biogen’s Tecfidera currently has a hold on 15% of the global market share for MS, multiple sclerosis, and 53% of the U.S orals market.

Further solidifying Biogen’s stance in the market is the fact that Biogen has seen a “couple percentage point improvement” in its discontinuation rates over the last several months. Harrison then turned his attention to Biogen’s attempt to try and spark growth in its European Tecfidera markets by changing up its leadership. The analyst mentioned that Biogen’s management anticipates pricing and increased formulary pressure to remain.

Biogen used the conference to announce that the company is excited about the market opportunity for spinal muscular atrophy, SMA. Harrison is anticipating updates to begin to come out over the next several weeks.

The analyst also provided insight on the remarks made by Celgene’s head of Immune and Inflammatory diseases, Scott Smith. Smith spoke at the conference regarding the companies’ Immune and Inflammatory pipeline, which the company believes is full of promising assets. The analyst notes that with regards to CELG pipeline oral Crohn’s drug GED-0301, management stated that a proportion of all three treatment groups showed endoscopic improvement, which is a 25% increase from baseline, clinical response and clinical remission at 12 weeks.

Harrison adds that Smith didn’t provide any more specifics, but that data on the trials would be presented at a scientific meeting later this year. The analyst expressed concerns that several investors have had due to Celgene’s PhIb GED endoscopy study having no placebo group. Smith addressed this concern with his belief that a placebo group would provide little value due to the disease severity at baseline.

Lastly, the analyst discussed how Smith mentioned the development of Celgene’s Phll trail for GED-0301 in ulcerative colitis recently being enrolled. The company expects to have data from that trial as soon as 2017.


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