A New Millennium

Millennium Pharmaceuticals (MLNM ), once a pure play in genomics, has turned into an outfit that commercializes breakthrough drugs and diagnostic products. In February, it acquired COR Therapeutics, whose chief product, Integrilin, an arterial-blood-clot breaker, is expected to produce sales of $304 million in 2002 and $350 million in 2003. Integrilin's net value to Millennium is $1 billion, says Standard & Poor's Frank DiLorenzo.

But another product now in Phase 3 trials, Velcade, may really boost Millennium's stock, which, along with other biotechs, has slumped--from 36 a share in early December and 16 in mid-May of 2002, to 8.59 on Nov. 6. Velcade is designed to treat multiple myeloma, or blood-borne cancer. At the Dec. 9 meeting of the American Society of Hematology, Millennium is expected to reveal favorable clinical results for Velcade. Edward Tenthoff of ThinkEquity Partners says that in Phase 2 trials Velcade was found to be "safe and well-tolerated" in 77% of the 70 patients. The drug's efficacy, he says, lasted at least 6.2 months. He adds that the Phase 3 trials, for which 700 patients are enrolled, could show even better results.

A more lucrative market for Velcade--possibly worth $1 billion, says Tenthoff--is in the treatment of solid tumors, for which it is now in Phase 1 trials. He expects Millennium, which has yet to make money, to file for approval of Velcade in 2004. It has a pipeline of compounds in various stages of trials, including therapy for prostate cancer, leukemia, and obesity. Tenthoff, who owns stock, has a target of 15, rates it "overweight" and sees it posting profits by 2004.

By Gene Marcial

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