Biogen Idec sees revenue surge on MS drug sales

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Biogen Idec sees revenue surge on MS drug sales
Biogen Idec sees revenue surge on MS drug sales
Biogen Idec saw revenue rise 18% in the second quarter to $1.4 billion amid strong sales of Avonex, with a host of promising late-stage pipeline products waiting in the wings.

Revenues from the firm's Avonex MS franchise increased 16% over Q2 2011 to $762 million amid strong uptake of the Avonex Pen and Avostartgrip titration dosing kit, which launched in May. Rituxan revenues rose 31% to $285 million, driven by the drug's maintenance indication for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and offset by a $50 million charge related to Genentech litigation. 

Revenues from Tysabri were disappointingly flat at $280 million, with global in-market sales up 2% to $395 million, $211 million of that coming from the US. The sluggish growth for Tysabri was due, in part, to a pricing dispute in Italy, the company said while trumpeting strong new patient starts data for the drug, with around 2,400 patients going on the drug in the quarter and 69,100 currently on commercial and clinical Tysabri therapy worldwide altogether. 

Selling, general and administrative expenses came to $301 million for the quarter – around 21% of revenues – while R&D costs came to $329 million. 

The Cambridge, MA biotech has a lot to show for its R&D investment. The company plans an early 2013 launch of its BG-12 MS treatment, which, if approved by FDA, would give it a triumvirate of MS treatments. The firm has seven products in Phase II clinical trials, including treatments for Hemophilia A and B, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Chroic Lymphocitic Leukemia and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and a trio of projects for MS, including daclizumab, a new indication for Tysabri and a Pegylated Interferon. 

The firm will field separate sales forces for BG-12, Avonex and Tysabri in major markets, said Kingsley, who sketched out commercial plans for the company's burgeoning MS franchise at an analyst day in June. The Avonex pen, he said, “gives us something new to talk about in a competitive class where share of voice matters until the other parts of the AVONEX story. It gives us an improved ability to meet those needs of patients but also the needs of the busy practices who don't have time, and it gets -- leads to better compliance which is important to clinical outcome.”

Of BG-12, Kingsley said: “We have done detailed product positioning, market research. The promotional campaigns are well underway. We are scaling up resources including customer-facing resources now in the U.S. and as appropriate, in markets outside the U.S., all with an eye to early 2013 launch in the U.S. and then subsequently in Europe. We've also put significant investment against health economics, market access, all the things that we'll need to do to achieve reimbursement and the strategies associated with that. So from a commercial standpoint, we feel very comfortable with where we are to get BG-12 off to a terrific start when we get market authorization.”

The company continues to forecast revenue gains in the mid-single digits for the year, with SG&A costs making up 22% to 23% of revenue. 
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