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Which Pipeline Has Better Potential: Celgene or Biogen?

Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) and Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) are both biotech industry titans, but for investors who can only add one of these two stocks to their portfolio, which is the better buy? Although Biogen has an intriguing Alzheimer's disease moonshot advancing through R&D, various potential blockbusters lurking in Celgene's pipeline are closer to commercialization. 

In this clip from The Motley Fool's Industry Focus: Healthcare podcast, analyst Kristine Harjes and healthcare contributor Todd Campbell compare the two drugmakers' pipeline potential to explain which of these two Goliaths they would choose.

A transcript follows the video.

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This podcast was recorded on Jul. 1, 2016. 

Kristine Harjes: With Biogen, as we've mentioned on the show a few times now, they're relying on some of these moonshots at this point, and they do have very successful drugs on the market, and so some of their value proposition is quite clear, but there are also quite a few pretty large question marks surrounding this company. I mean, we talked about on the May 11th show, [potential MS drug] Anti-LINGO, and then when we updated you last in June, that drug missed. It missed the mark in trials, the stock tanked, and to me, that indicates that the market is pricing in these moonshots to Biogen's evaluation to some extent, which makes me a little bit nervous about going forward.

They have a couple more that really, really intriguing drugs that could be huge that they're working on, but I'd be worried about the potential hit to the company if they don't work out.

Todd Campbell: Right, and that's shifting now to the pipeline issue, and you start thinking to yourself: "OK, well how de-risked are these pipelines?" The biggest needle mover for Biogen would be an Alzheimer's disease drug, but 99% of those drugs -- of Alzheimer's drugs in clinical trials -- have failed. So how de-risked is that? Not very much so, in my opinion, but if you switch over and you look at Celgene, and you say: "OK, well they've got phase three drug that theoretically could start competing in multiple sclerosis against Biogen, that has data expected next year; they've got a Crohn's disease drug which is expected next year, and they've got the potential through a partnership they have with Juno Therapeutics to have another blood cancer drug on the market next year, too." So to me, that seems like the pipeline is a little bit more de-risked than it is with Biogen.

Kristine Harjes has no position in any stocks mentioned. Todd Campbell owns shares of Celgene. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Biogen and Celgene. The Motley Fool has the following options: short October 2016 $95 puts on Celgene. The Motley Fool recommends Juno Therapeutics. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.