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Biogen grows in Q2, but Spinraza performance a concern

Company banking on pipeline readouts and Tecfidra defence

Biogen

Biogen has exceeded expectations in overall Q2 revenues from its multiple sclerosis franchise and biosimilars, but worse than expected performance from its key growth leader Spinraza has concerned investors.

The US pharma company reported an 8% revenue increase in Q2 results, with revenues for the period hitting $3.6bn, which exceeded the Wall Street estimated consensus of $3.5bn

The performance was thanks largely to its under-pressure multiple sclerosis (MS) franchise, where combined sales of Tecfidera, Avonex, Plegridy and Tysabri totalled $2.2bn. This exceeded Wall Street forecasts consensus of $2.1bn. Further sales of $183mn came from Ocrevus royalties, which helped to push a growth increase of 3% from  last year’s second quarter.

The company's biosimilars also put on a good show in Europe, recording sales of $184m this quarter compared to estimates of $175m.

However analysts remain concerned about Biogen's heavy reliance on its MS portfolio, with a slew of newly launched or anticipated rival therapies likely to take market share from Biogen’s therapies.

CEO Michel Vounatsos said the company was on track for a strong year, and pointed to four new programmes added to its pipeline in the quarter in neuroscience and its "therapeutic adjacencies” strategy.

Spinraza is Biogen’s spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) treatment, and William Blair had forecast sales of the period at $540m, but it could only reach $488m.

The rare disease drug is now facing direct competition from Novartis’ gene therapy Zolgensma, which was approved in May of this year.

However there were no signs yet of Novartis' drug encroaching on its market, with new patient starts for Spinraza treatment in the US  in line with William Blair estimates, and which stayed constant over the first quarter.

Biogen also published recent unexpected data which showed compelling results for Spinraza in an early setting, which could help it fight Zolgensma in this cohort of high-need patients.

Biogen has a number of significant clinical readouts over the next 18 months, but many of these  remain high risk, such as the phase 3 trial of BIIB092 in progressive supranuclear palsy.

One big binary decision awaiting the firm is a challenge to Tecfidera’s US patent, with a court ruling expected next year. Speaking on the analyst investor call, Biogen's management reiterated their focus on the issue, which could signal the firm's willingness  to reach a settlement with challenger Mylan.

24th July 2019

From: Sales

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