Bluebird bio’s stock $BLUE jumped over 20% on Thursday following its first-quarter earnings release and the announcement of 15 patients starting on its three approved gene therapies: Zynteglo, Skysona and Lyfgenia.

The company wrote in its financial report that 15 patients had completed starts on its expensive gene therapies: 11 on Zynteglo for transfusion-dependent thalassemia, three on Skysona for cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy and one on Lyfgenia for sickle cell. Bluebird expects 85 to 105 total patient starts across its portfolio this year.

Zynteglo costs $2.8 million per treatment, Lyfgenia $3.1 million and Skysona $3 million.

The company considers a “start” on a gene therapy as a patient’s first completion of a cell collection.

“We believe that once a patient goes through that process, that it’s highly likely that they’ll go through the entire journey and ultimately get treated and infused at the end of the day,” bluebird chief commercial and operating officer Tom Klima said on an investor call Thursday morning.

Klima added that he expects the number of starts to ramp up in the final two quarters of the year, with bluebird’s field team now focused on supporting qualified treatment centers that offer the company’s gene therapies. The company also expects to recognize revenue from its first infusion of Lyfgenia in the third quarter of this year.

Bluebird CEO Andrew Obenshain added on the call that the company will remain entirely focused on the US for the “near and probably midterm future.”

The company shuttered its commercial operations in Europe in 2021 after Germany and others refused to reimburse for Zynteglo at the price requested by bluebird.

“We are watching the ex-US geographies,” Obenshain said. “If we go there, we most likely go with a partner and not do it alone.”

Total revenue for the company hit $18.6 million for the first quarter of 2024, compared to $2.4 million in the same period in 2023, with the increase of $16.2 million due to Zynteglo revenue, the company said.

But the company noted discussions are “ongoing” with Medicaid agencies that represent 80% of Medicaid-insured Americans with sickle cell disease.

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