Genzyme sees signs of remission in 5-year MS drug data

Looking over a new five-year set of clinical data on its multiple sclerosis drug alemtuzumab, Genzyme's Michael Panzara was inspired to ask, "Is this what remission looks like?"

Touted as a likely blockbuster by some analysts, alemtuzumab--or Campath--is one of the prime late-stage assets in Genzyme's pipeline that drove Sanofi to bid $18.5 billion for the company. Now Genzyme researchers say that a five-year follow-up on patients recruited for a mid-stage study showed that 87 percent experienced no worsening in their condition. Meanwhile, only 62 percent of patients taking the rival Rebif could make the same claim.

"The most remarkable thing about this data is that it hasn't changed much from the four-year data," Panzara, Genzyme's MS trial chief, tells Reuters. "This is unique and starts us thinking; are these people in remission?" The drug is currently in two late-stage studies for MS.

That kind of excitement could translate into peak sales of $1.6 billion to $2 billion in a market expected to hit $13 billion this year. That's actually bad news for Sanofi, which has projected likely sales of $700 million for the therapy. A new blockbuster in Genzyme's hands would make the Boston biotech worth a considerably higher sum, and that's not the kind of speculation Sanofi wants to hear right now.

- check out the Genzyme release
- read the story from Reuters
- and here's the Dow Jones piece