Beyond Adcetris: Seattle Genetics Aiming for Big Biopharma Status

Profitability will be placed on the backfoot as Seattle Genetics looks to grow into a “powerful big expansive company,” the firm says.

For the first quarter 2018, total revenues grew to US$141 million (€116 million) compared to $109 million in the same period last year. This was attributed to a 36% increase in sales of Seattle Genetics’ antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin), which pulled in $95 million of sales.

Total costs for the quarter, meanwhile, jumped by almost 30% to $234 million year-on-year, due to increased R&D expenses and the acquisition of Cascadian Therapeutics in March, and the firm ended with a net loss of $112 million.

Progress Over Profits… For Now

But profitability will come, said CEO Clay Siegall during a financial call.

“We want to be profitable, we expect to be profitable and we certainly could be profitable now based on our revenue if we skinny down everything and didn’t do what we’re doing,”  he told investors (see transcript here).

“We have a vision that we could make Seattle Genetics into a much more powerful big expansive company,”  he continued, alluding to success stories of Biogen, Gilead and Celgene – biotech firms, which have gone from having one lead molecule to big biopharma firms with portfolios boasting several top-selling drugs.

“We aspire to doing things like that and becoming a really valuable, important company for cancer patients, and we think we have the nucleus to do it – we have the pipeline to do it,” he said.

“So it doesn’t feel like it’s the right time to pull off the gas pedal and make being profitable our top priority even though we want to be profitable at the earliest possible time.”

Partnerships and Licensing Deals

Adcetris – developed with Takeda Pharmaceuticals – uses Seattle Genetics’ linker technology to combine the brentuximab monoclonal antibody with a cytotoxic small molecule. It received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in 2011​ to treat Hodgkin lymphoma (HL).

Since then Seattle Genetics has expanded its proprietary and partnered pipeline: It is investigating a pyrrolobenzodiazepine (PBD) dimer as a highly potent cytotoxic agent, while collaborating with firms including Genentech, GSK, Genmab and Pfizer.

The firm has also licensed its linker technology to firms including AbbVie, Astellas, Bayer, Celldex, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Progenics.

“We’re no longer Adcetris and a bunch of early stage products, we’re now multiple late stage products across oncology and we’re really excited about this,” said Siegall. “I think we have a great future.”

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