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Biogen plans spin-out of haemophilia business

Aims to create two 'agile' specialist firms
Biogen

Biogen has revealed it intends to spin out its haemophilia business into a separate company and focus its activities on areas such as neurology.

In a form of corporate binary fission, the company says it intends to create two focused, specialist companies that will be slimmed down, agile and eventually more profitable.

The new publicly-traded company has yet to be named but will start operations with two marketed products - Elocta/Eloctate (efmoroctocog alfa) for haemophilia A and Aprolix (eftrenonacog alfa) for haemophilia B - as well as a pipeline of follow-up therapies for blood clotting disorders.

Biogen retains its suite of multiple sclerosis therapies, an emerging biosimilars business and a pipeline that includes drugs for central nervous system (CNS) disorders such as MS and Alzheimer's disease, cancer treatments and immunological therapies.

The company has a strong position in MS with five approved drugs - although there has been some anxiety of late about their sales growth - and the spin-off will allow the company to focus its activities in neuroscience.

Some analysts, including RBC Capital analyst Michael Yee, expressed surprise that the company opted to spin-out the haemophilia unit, rather than selling it outright to raise cash.

The haemophilia business will be led by John Cox, who currently serves as Biogen's executive vice president for pharmaceutical operations and technology and has been deeply involved with the haemophilia project at Biogen for several years.

Eloctate and Alprolix are recent entrants into the $10bn haemophilia category, which has for years been split between established players Baxalta (formerly Baxter), Bayer, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer and CSL Behring.

Biogen entered the market with its two long-acting products - offering reduced dosing frequencies - in 2014 and has already started to make headway against the established players. In the first quarter, sales of Alprolix were $75m, with Eloctate adding $108m to the pot.

Both drugs have been tipped as potential blockbusters, although the haemophilia market is undergoing a period of considerable change as established players bring their own long-acting drugs to market and data starts to emerge on other treatment approaches such as gene therapy.

"When Biogen brought Eloctate and Alprolix to market … they represented the first major treatment advances in nearly two decades for people living with haemophilia," said Cox.

"I'm extremely excited to build on this legacy, lead a management team that's passionate about haemophilia and further advance that innovative progress."

There is already speculation that splitting in two could make both Biogen and the spin-off vulnerable to a takeover attempt.

Article by
Phil Taylor

4th May 2016

From: Research, Sales

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