Dendreon shares jump on news of prostate drug's European launch

Mon Mar 3, 2014 9:15am EST

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(Reuters) - Biotechnology company Dendreon Corp DNDN.O said it would start selling its prostate cancer vaccine Provenge in Europe, sending its shares up nearly 15 percent in premarket trading.

Provenge, once touted as the next big thing in cancer treatment, received European marketing approval in September for use in advanced prostate cancer patients.

The company, which also reported better-than-expected revenue for the fourth quarter, said on Monday that it would launch the drug in Europe beginning with the United Kingdom and Germany, but did not specify when that would happen.

Provenge, the company's sole product on the market, is designed to reprogram the body's immune cells to attack advanced prostate cancer cells.

The treatment has failed to live up to expectations due to the company's limited manufacturing capability, quality issues, uncertainty over insurance coverage and competition from rival drugs.

The emergence of easier-to-use rival drugs such as Medivation Inc's (MDVN.O) Xtandi and Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ.N) Zytiga has also put pressure on sales of the vaccine, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010.

Dendreon reported revenue of $74.8 million for the quarter ended December 31, just above analysts' average estimate of $73 million.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, behind lung cancer.

An estimated 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the country in 2014, according to the American Cancer Society.

The Seattle-based company's stock was trading at $3.30 before the bell.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover and Esha Dey in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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