Dendreon’s Provenge Launch Story Enters Second Chapter, With Today’s Earnings Call

Xconomy Seattle — 

Dendreon, the Seattle-based cancer drug developer that people either love or love to hate, is going to provide a lot more grist for debate later today.

The company is preparing to release its third quarter financial report today at the close of markets, and will host a webcast conference call at 4:30 pm Eastern/1:30 pm Pacific to discuss the performance with investors. This report is a big deal to followers of Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN) because it will say a lot about how well the company is doing at selling its first-of-a-kind immune boosting treatment for prostate cancer, and how it is managing potentially serious future obstacles like Medicare reimbursement and a manufacturing shortage.

Expectations have been riding high ever since Dendreon won FDA approval in April to market sipuleucel-T (Provenge), as the first treatment to actively stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells like a foreign virus. Lots of analysts started talking about billion-dollar projections, and Dendreon’s market valuation has soared to more than $5 billion. The company, however, sought to put a limit on those sky-high hopes earlier this year because it only has enough manufacturing capacity to serve about 2,000 patients in the first year. The drug generated $2.8 million in sales in the quarter that ended June 30, although Dendreon has shown there’s strong demand for the product, as indicated by $5.2 million in sales in July alone. Wall Street analysts are now expecting just under $24 million in sales for the quarter that ended September 30, according to this report from’s Adam Feuerstein.

Once people get past the Provenge sales number, and possibly the month-by-month sales trajectory, Dendreon’s management will surely be asked to talk about two key elements of the business for the future—Medicare and manufacturing.

Dendreon has set the price of Provenge at $93,000 per patient for a complete course of therapy, which certainly doesn’t sit well with critics of high drug prices. Now the company is getting ready to justify that cost to the most important purchaser of drugs for U.S. men over 65—the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The agency is holding a public hearing on November 17 to discuss the strength of the evidence to support use of Provenge, and to raise sticky questions … Next Page »

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6 responses to “Dendreon’s Provenge Launch Story Enters Second Chapter, With Today’s Earnings Call”

  1. Bill says:

    “That could get expensive in a hurry at $93,000 a patient per year”.

    I don’t understand why we are STILL reading that the treatment costs $93k “per year”. The treatment takes 4 weeks to complete…and that’s it! Done! Nothing “per year”. What’s so hard to understand about that??

  2. Bill–you’re right, it’s $93,000 per patient. There’s no need to take it year after year. This was a slip, and it’s been fixed.

  3. Bill says:

    Luke…Thanx for the correction.

    Here’s a request, for someone interested in publishing an accurate comparison. I’m constantly reading about the $93k cost of Provenge. Instead of focussing on the one-time cost of $93k for Provenge, with almost no serious side affects, vs the cost of chemo alone, I wish someone would do a comprehensive cost comparison of Provenge to chemo, and include ALL the additional treatment costs the chemo patients will require simply to treat the greuling chemo-induced side effects. And let’s not forget steroidal pre-treatment, which can severely damage the already weak patient’s immune system before they can even start chemo.

    This assumes, of course, that the patient is actually willing to undergo the chemo, and endure all of it’s severe side effects with minimal benefits, rather than just refusing that additional misery, as many do, and opting to just die quietly.

    Doing the above would then paint a more accurate picture of what Medicare would actually be spending…or saving…by covering Provenge, both on and possibly off-label. I would assume that this simple logic would come into focus during the CMS review process…but who knows?

    And how do we put a value on superior quality of life, and extended overall survival?? Both have real value, which must be considered when reviewing the cost of Provenge.

  4. Trond says:

    >>Here’s a request, for someone interested in publishing an accurate comparison.

    Bill, David Miller (referenced in the article) did exactly that about three or four months ago. I do not have the link handy but a google search should find it pretty quickly.

    Luke, another great article. Appreciate your coverage of Dendreon!


  5. Bill says:

    Trond…Thanx. I missed that one. It was almost perfect as to what I was looking for. And the outcome of comparative costs were as I suspected…very similar…yet no one complains about the high cost of Taxotere. Just the terrible side effects.

    The only thing I wish we had here in the US…and we might get it soon enough with O’care…is a subjective value placed on quality of life…as well as a value for extended overall survival…but how would it be calculated? This would indeed make PV much more worthwhile when compared to chemo!

    Thanx again.