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ImClone May Have a Cancer Blockbuster

ImClone Systems (IMCL), a biotech outfit that focuses on cancer, was a big hit at the May 14 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. It presented findings from Phase II and III trials of its flagship product IMC-C225--for colorectal, head-and-neck, and pancreatic cancer.

"The data that ImClone presented substantiate our belief that C225 could be a blockbuster, with potential for $1 billion in annual sales," says Cory Kasimov, an analyst at Gruntal. A Phase II study of C225 in 120 patients with colorectal cancer, says Kasimov, showed a 22.5% positive response--surpassing an expected 17% rate and the 15% hurdle believed necessary for Food & Drug Administration approval. ImClone will file for approval in June. C225 has a fast-track designation, so it could get approved early next year.

John McCamant, editor of Medical Technology Stock Letter, expects ImClone to seek a partner to fund C225'S trials and co-market the product. Bristol-Myers Squibb is a potential ally, says McCamant, but the company might opt instead to acquire ImClone. Bristol-Myers needs a biotech with potential breakthrough products--and ImClone needs a deep-pocketed backer. For ImClone, McCamant has a 12-to-18-month target of 100--with or without a buyout. It is now 47.

Analyst Stephen Farinelli of Merrill Lynch expects ImClone to turn profitable in two years, earning 84 cents a share in 2003, and $1.50 in 2004. By Gene G. Marcial

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