BMS-Celgene deal: CEO looking to the ‘evolution’ of market with cell therapies

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/undefined undefined)
(Image: Getty/undefined undefined)

Related tags Celgene Bristol-myers squibb Cell therapy bluebird bio

BMS' CEO explains that the deal will help the company to ‘participate in the growth and evolution’ of oncology, spearheaded by cellular therapies.

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s deal for Celgene carries a significant price tag, at $74bn (€65.2bn), but BMS’ CEO, Giovanni Caforio, believes that the price is worth paying to gain a leadership position in cellular therapies.

Caforio, in an investor call, stated that such a leadership position is important for the long-term proposition of the company, allowing BMS to “participate in the growth and evolution of the oncology market.”

Celgene possesses a pipeline containing stakes in multiple chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T treatments, after it concluded deals that sees it collaborating with bluebird bio​ and buying out its cell therapy partner​, Juno Therapeutics, in a $9bn acquisition a year ago.

Rupert Vessey, Celgene’s president of research & early development, outlined how the company sees cell therapies as a platform that will continue to develop over the coming years: “We should think of cellular therapies as an emerging modality rather in the way that antibodies were 20 or 30 years ago, and they take time to optimise, but I can absolutely assure you that there are next-generation candidates coming forward.”

“We've now treated more people with cell therapies than anybody else. We have a huge data set, over 700 people treated. The insights that we are gaining from that into optimisation of next-generation cellular therapies is not to be underestimated,”​ he continued.

Cell therapies and pricing

Discussions on pricing in the US​ and Europe​ look likely to be a recurring theme in the years ahead, particularly in the area of cell therapies that carry a higher price tag​.

Caforio noted that this leadership position in cell therapies would grant the merged company significant weight when discussing reimbursement with payers.

He projected that “depth of presence, as leaders in the therapeutic areas in which you talk to payers, will be increasingly important.”

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