Celgene: The house that Revlimid built

Celgene: The house that Revlimid built

2011: $1.6 billion
2012: $1.1 billion
As a percentage of revenue: 33%
Research chief: Tom Daniel, M.D.

Celgene's ($CELG) high hopes that it could expand on its blockbuster cancer drug Revlimid was dealt a serious setback last fall when the drug flunked a late-stage study for prostate cancer. But it's still got an eye on expanding the commercial horizons on Abraxane. And the company has been an active dealmaker in recent months, buying and partnering on the cancer and inflammation fronts in a series of deals.

Celgene paid $130 million upfront to partner with Agios in 2010 and then quickly added $20 million last year to extend its pact, which puts Celgene in the passenger seat of a new program targeting metabolic enzymes to starve tumor cells. There was a $242 million pact with Acceleron to partner on an anemia program, building on their 2008 agreement and extending an option on other anemia drugs the biotech brings along. And it continued work on a pipeline that includes drugs obtained in the 2010 Abraxis buyout, which cost $2.9 billion. Celgene had earlier acquired Gloucester Pharmaceuticals.

For a lot of companies, that would all be good enough. But at the beginning of this year, analysts pegged Celgene as a likely candidate for top dealmaker of the year. And they haven't been disappointed.

The biotech bought Avila Therapeutics in January in a $925 million deal, $350 million of that upfront. Then it turned around and paid $90 million for an upfront fee and equity stake in Epizyme, partnering on the startup's intriguing epigenetics platform. San Diego-based AnaptysBio inked an antibody discovery deal in April. And Celgene invested $15 million in Acetylon to keep a close watch on ACY-1215, an HDAC6 enzyme inhibitor that has potential as a possible combo therapy with Revlimid.

Top late-stage prospects include apremilast for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, which one JP Morgan analyst has noted could earn upward of $500 million a year. There's an ambitious slate of Phase II studies for PDA-001, a stem cell treatment for Crohn's disease. And there's a late-stage program for amrubicin. 

Celgene: The house that Revlimid built
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