The UK's Vernalis has picked up a key endorsement from Novartis, a Big Pharma company with a growing reputation for picking winners in the pipeline. On the same day that Novartis wowed analysts with a big second quarter finish the Swiss company tapped Vernalis's experimental tumor treatment--AUY922, which it is collaborating on now in mid-stage work--as a potential blockbuster.
That's the kind of news that investors thrill to. And they were quick to bid up Vernalis's rather tarnished shares by 11 percent. Singer analyst Shawn Manning told Bloomberg that "people should be excited." They should also be very patient. Now in mid-stage development, AUY922 is slated for regulatory submission in 2015, putting it very much at the end of Novartis's list of its seven top blockbuster prospects--out of 140 development projects.
What else did Novartis like for the 10-figure club? First up is INC424, with a myelofibrosis filing this year; the COPD combo drug QVA149, slated for 2012; the heart drug Relaxin, a pick for 2013 alongside DEB025 for hepatitis C and AIN457 for rheumatoid arthritis; and then BEZ235/ BKM210 for solid tumors in 2014.
Just weeks ago Incyte and Novartis reported that the experimental INC424 hit another Phase III endpoint, reducing spleen size in patients with myelofibrosis, a blood cancer. After 48 weeks of treatment researchers noted a 35 percent reduction in spleen size by slightly more than a quarter of the patients taking the drug. The drug was filed with the FDA on June 6.