No Revenge of Provenge for Dendreon

No Revenge of Provenge for Dendreon

Dendreon announced its second-quarter results after the market closed on Thursday. The market reaction certainly gives the gist of how the company did. Shares fell nearly 13% in after-hours trading. Here are the highlights.

No revenge of Provenge yet
Disappointment prevailed in Dendreon's update. The company reported a net loss of $68.8 million, or $0.45 per share. That's worse than the $0.42 per share loss expected by analysts.

Revenue for the quarter totaled $73.3 million, most of which stemmed from sales of prostate cancer drug Provenge. This result was 8.4% lower than revenue reported in the same period of 2012. It also came in below the average analysts' estimate of $75.6 million.

Dendreon acknowledged that it doesn't expect Provenge sales to be strong enough in the second half of the year to translate to year-over-year growth. Analysts expected sales of around $318 million for the full year.

Glimmers of good news
As bleak as these results sound, there were a few glimmers of good news. First, Dendreon's net loss was better than the $0.65 per share loss from the second quarter of last year.

And while Provenge full-year sales won't be nearly as strong as the company had hoped, the sequential trend is headed in the right direction. Revenue increased 8.4% compared to the first quarter of this year. Dendreon reported its highest-ever sales in urology, with 37% quarter-over-quarter growth.

Progress was also made on the clinical front. Dendreon completed enrollment in two studies, one of which combines Provenge with rival drug Zytiga, developed by Johnson & Johnson . The company also expects to begin enrollment in the fourth quarter for a phase 2 study featuring Provenge with another rival drug, Medivation's Xtandi.

There's also the positive opinion from the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use, or CHMP. If all goes well, Provenge should gain approval for sale in Europe in the near future.

Looking ahead
Dendreon certainly appears to face an uphill battle positioning Provenge against Zytiga and Xtandi. Both of these drugs are taken orally, while Provenge must be given through multiple infusions.

The sales results for the rival drugs underscore this challenge. J&J reported Zytiga sales of $395 million during the second quarter -- up 30% year-over-year. Xtandi made $82.4 million during the quarter. That's a 9% sequential gain for the drug, which didn't launch in the U.S. until September 2012.

Dendreon's best bet seems to be in marketing Provenge in combination with these drugs. Its efforts to advance clinical studies to that end make sense. There have been signs that urologists have to some degree embraced prescribing Provenge with Xtandi, in particular.

I doubt that even the most optimistic observer harbors any illusions that Provenge will reach the heights predicted when the drug first gained approval in 2010. Dendreon's second-quarter numbers confirm that the environment remains quite tough. That doesn't mean that the company can't be successful on a smaller scale, though. The next couple of quarters could reveal exactly how tough a "revenge of Provenge" will ultimately be.

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Fool contributor Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Dendreon and Johnson & Johnson. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Originally published