Genmab bags $30M milestone from J&J as Darzalex money machine fires up

Genmab (CPH:GEN) has pocketed a $30 million (€27 million) milestone payment from Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ). The payout, which continues a profitable period of the alliance for Genmab, is linked to the first commercial sale of multiple myeloma drug Darzalex in Europe.

Darzalex, which during development was known as daratumumab, racked up the sale days after the European Commission gave the green light to the drug. The quick sale is in keeping with the rate at which Darzalex has advanced--in a statement, Genmab CEO Jan van de Winkel praised the “rapid speed” at which J&J has worked--and the strength of the clinical trial data supporting its use. Genmab has benefitted financially from the quick advance of the asset.

The latest installment brings the amount Genmab has received from J&J in milestones over the past year up to $112 million, a figure that could swell further still as Darzalex and other components of the firms’ collaboration start to take off. In response to the successes--and in anticipation of the potential for further advances--investors have driven up Genmab’s stock by more than 100% over the past 12 months, giving it a near-all-time-high market cap of DKK 72.8 billion ($10.9 billion).

Events in the coming weeks could trigger further rises. On June 12 at the European Hematology Association (EHA) Congress, researchers will present data from the POLLUX study, a Phase III trial in which multiple myeloma patients who had received at least one prior line of therapy were given either Darzalex, Celgene’s ($CELG) Revlimid and dexamethasone or just the latter two drugs. Top-line data presented by Genmab associated the use of Darzalex with a 63% drop in the risk of disease progression.

The EHA abstract is listed as being embargoed until June 10 but is freely available on the EHA website and has already been widely discussed on social media. Given that the additional positive data in the abstract--93% overall response rate, 43% complete response for the Darzalex arm--are already in the public domain, the official unveiling of the results could be something of a nonevent for Genmab’s stock price.

An embargo on detailed data from the Phase III CASTOR trial, which gave Darzalex in combination with Takeda’s Velcade and dexamethasone--has been more rigorously enforced. The embargo is due to lift on Sunday, freeing researchers to present the results at ASCO--and later at EHA--and giving Genmab an opportunity to climb higher still. To date, Darzalex has aced its clinical trials, prompting Jefferies analyst Peter Welford to slap a peak sales forecast of $7 billion on the drug.

- read the statement
- here’s the EHA abstract

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