Company news: Biogen Idec and Targacept

Biogen Idec reported $975 million in product sales for the quarter ended March 31, up 7.5%  compared to sales for the same period last year. Revenues were $1.3 billion, a 7% increase over the same period last year. The company said Tuesday that sales of its weekly multiple sclerosis drug Avonex rose 3% during the quarter, to $662 million compared to the same period a year before. Sales for the monthly MS infusion drug Tysabri rose almost 14%, to $286 million, compared to $251 million for the same period last year. The company estimated that about 66,000 patients used Tysabri worldwide as of March 2012 and that a total of 99,600 patients have used the drug since its approval in 2006. R&D cost jumped 20%, to $356 million, compared to $294 million during the same period last year. Spokesperson Amanda Galgay told MM&M the increase is part of the company's efforts to shepherd its six Phase III programs for new pipeline drugs as well as part of the preparation for data readouts that are expected later this year. SG&A expenses rose by almost 23%, to $300 million, compared to $245 million for the same period last year. Galgay attributed part of this increase to marketing preparations for its oral MS drug BG-12, which goes before the FDA next year.

Targacept and AstraZeneca have officially parted ways over the experimental anti-depressant drug known as TC-5214, the Winston-Salem Journal reported Monday. The paper reports that the split was expected, after the two companies said in March that the agent didn't do well enough against placebos in Phase III testing and that they were not going to try to get it to pass FDA muster. On April 25 Targacept said it was laying off 65 employees, or 46% of its workforce. It expects the layoffs will cost around $2.4 million in 2012. The company is scheduled to announce first-quarter results Thursday.