Novartis to showcase blockbuster cancer drug strategy at ASCO

With the big ASCO meeting just ahead Novartis ($NVS) is promising to make headlines with the latest news on its pipeline of cancer drugs. And it plans a special focus on the potential blockbuster INC424. In development with Incyte, the JAK2 inhibitor--AKA INCB18424--is being studied as a potential treatment for a rare form of blood cancer.

Novartis has pursued a savvy plan to go after new treatments for rare cancers as it builds a portfolio of approvals and expands each drug's market reach. And analysts have been clearly impressed by the results so far, giving Novartis favorable reviews as the pharma giant advances new treatments to replace revenue lost to generic competition.

In a release, Novartis outlined its plan to showcase two positive studies of INC424 for myelofibrosis, new late-stage data on Glivec and fresh numbers for its PI3K inhibitor BEZ235, TKI258 (dovitinib), LDE225 and LBH589 (panobinostat). Novartis execs have already said that INC424 could generate $500 million a year for myelofibrosis and then surge past $1 billion as they add more indications.

"INCB18424 might arouse investors' interest in Novartis, given that it is the most advanced JAK2 inhibitor in the treatment of myelofibrosis patients, potentially reaching the European market in the second half of 2012," noted analysts at WestLB.  

"It's a lot of important, large studies in the late pipeline. Then at the same time we have some first data coming from the early pipeline...For us it's a very balanced ASCO," Novartis oncology chief Herve Hoppenot told Reuters.

- here's the Novartis release
- check out the story from Reuters