Updated: Feb 1, 2021
The announcement of the revenue development and portfolio update from Basilea reflects the strength and breadth of the anti-infectives franchise and emerging oncology pipeline.
While total revenues at CHF128m were at the bottom end of the guidance range (CHF128-CHF138m) and lower than our estimate of CHF135m, we note that key product Cresemba continues to perform strongly despite the impact of COVID-19 and the strength of the Swiss Franc. Indeed, we noted in our October initiation that "...Cresemba may be impacted in the short term by coronavirus dislocation, but global demand remains strong and we expect demand will return for antifungals with an advantageous profile like Cresemba". To be fair in-market sales of Cresemba and Zevtera remained encouragingly strong with Basilea reporting associated revenue growth of 13% to CHF78m, despite these headwinds. Our expectation is that any 2020 shortfall will be revenues deferred as opposed to revenues lost. Importantly, given the continuing investment from the oncology pipeline, and in particular the differentiated FGFR inhibitor derazantinib, the year-end cash position at CHF167m was well ahead of guidance of CHF150m, and in line with our forecast of CHF168m.
With a strong financial performance, all eyes remain on the outlook for derazantinib in its target cancer indications of biliary cancer (FIDES-01) and more importantly in the longer term in combination with the checkpoint inhibitor Tecentriq in bladder (urothelial) cancer (FIDES-02) and ultimately also in combination with Tecentriq and the anti-VEGF therapy ramucirumab (FIDES-03) in gastric cancer. The combination data are particularly important given the intensifying competitive environment fo FGFR inhibitors. The likelihood that derazantinib's additional activity against CSF1R could boost the activity of the checkpoint inhibitors in indications where immunotherapy has been lacklustre, should differentiate it from competition.
We have already seen preliminary proof of concept in iCCA patients and look forward to an update in FGFR2 gene fusion patients now scheduled for Q1 2021, following COVID-19 delays to data verification. Another potential source of differentiation for derazantinib in iCCA is in those patients who also suffer from gene mutations and amplifications, where data from derazantinib has been encouraging but lacking from the competition. 2021 and 2022 should bear witness to multiple data and value inflection points for the oncology pipeline. Positive results should see an increased acknowledgement of the potential and the importance of derazantinib, which we believe is currently overlooked in the face of the current competitive environment.