Prolia fights osteoporosis and bone cancer, the company believes, although an FDA decision on the latter disease isn't due until Nov. 18.
Wall Street predicted $31 million in sales for Prolia this quarter. It's been on the market since early June and now has four months' of revenue under its belt. It is early going, of course, and one can't make predictions on such a small amount of data. But the drug sold $3 million in its first month out of the gate and only added another $7 million in the three months after that. Even if you factor in "stocking" -- in which wholesalers stock up on a newly launched product and then temporarily reduce their orders until they know how much demand there is -- this seems tepid at best.
That's a problem because Wall Street -- as usual -- is frothing at the mouth for Prolia revenues. Analyst estimates for peak sales are comically divergent, except for one thing: They're all magnitudes of massive:
- Dow Jones "Wall Street": $1 billion annually.
- Bloomberg "analysts": $2.2 billion in sales in 2013.
- Barclays Capital analyst Jim Birchenough: $10 billion a year.
- Sanford Bernstein analyst Geoffrey Porges: $1.5 billion in 2015 revenue for the cancer indication alone.
- Reuters/Thomson Pharma: $3 billion by 2014.
- Stifel Nicolaus analyst Maged Shenouda: Up to $3.8 billion based on further cancer approvals.
But what if it's more like Byetta or Effient or Onglyza or Multaq -- drugs that Wall Street convinced itself would be huge, but which are now mere niche products in their respective companies' portfolios?