A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine
indicates that Biogen Idec's experimental MS drug, BG-12 is on track to make an impression. The study said patients taking the oral medication had a significantly lower annual relapse rate at two years when taking the drug two or three times a day, compared with placebo. The study did not show the drug had any significant impact on slowing disease progression.
Thursday's news brings the drug one step closer to its built-in fan base. It also comes a week after the FDA approved Sanofi's oral contender
, Aubagio (teriflunomide). Phase III trials of Sanofi's therapy reduced the relapse rate among MS patients by about 30%. Industry watchers told MM&M
at the time that the approval expanded patient options, but it was going to have a longer acceptance curve among physicians than BG-12, which has cultivated a level of pre-approval confidence with its safety and efficacy profile.
Ben Weintraub, director of research at the health analytics firm InThought, told MM&M
at the time of Sanofi's Augbagio approval that this will translate into doctor preference for the Biogen Idec drug over rivals like Aubagio or Tysabri for second-line use when interferon and Copaxone fail.