(Corrects paragraph 7 to identify Chris Raymond as an analyst
at Robert Baird and Co, not Raymond James)
By Ransdell Pierson
July 23 Biogen Idec Inc reported
blowout quarterly results and raised its full-year forecast on
Wednesday on surging sales of its new Tecfidera oral treatment
for multiple sclerosis, boosting shares 11 percent.
"These are spectacular results, and this is one of the
biggest profit beats for Biogen I've seen in years," said RBC
Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee.
Tecfidera, which was approved in March 2013, posted sales of
$700 million in the second quarter, making it one of the
fastest-growing prescription medicines in history. U.S. sales of
$585 million far exceeded Wall Street forecasts in the $485
The drug is taking flight as patients with the progressive
neurological disease move from injectable treatments to more
convenient pills, including Novartis AG's Gilenya and
Sanofi SA's Aubagio.
Gilenya, with annual sales of more than $2 billion, in 2010
became the first pill approved for MS, followed by Aubagio,
which has annual sales of about $400 million.
But Gilenya has been associated with cardiovascular risks,
and reports of sudden death, while Aubagio is deemed to be
somewhat lacking in potency and raises the risk of liver
"Tecfidera has the best balance of efficacy and safety"
among the three oral agents, said Robert Baird and Co analyst
He said Tecfidera, which costs about $48,000 a year in the
United States and about $30,000 in Europe, will be the pill of
choice and could eventually reap annual sales of up to $6
billion, helped by the dominance of Biogen in the MS field.
"Clearly, if you have to take a chronic therapy, you'd
rather take a pill than an injection," he said.
Multiple sclerosis affects an estimated 2.3 million people
worldwide. The condition, often leading to paralysis, is caused
by damage to the protective myelin sheath of nerves and is
believed to be the result of attacks by an overactive immune
Biogen's revenue jumped 40 percent to $2.42 billion, about
$250 million above Wall Street expectations.
Earnings of $3.49 per share, excluding special items, blew
past the $2.83 average forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson
The results prompted the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based
company to raise its full-year earnings outlook, excluding
special items, to between $12.90 and $13.10 per share. In April,
it had forecast $11.35 to $11.45.
RBC Capital Markets' Yee said he believed Biogen would
likely beat analysts' estimates in coming quarters and keep
raising its forecasts.
Avonex, an injectable interferon treatment for MS that is
still Biogen's biggest product, posted slightly lower sales of
Sales of Tysabri, a high-potency infused MS treatment,
leaped 38 percent to $533 million. That included $54 million of
previously deferred revenue from Italy.
The company on Wednesday received European approval for a
longer-lasting interferon treatment for MS called Plegridy that
is awaiting approval in the United States.
Cowen and Co analyst Eric Schmidt said he expects Plegridy
sales of close to $300 million next year, as some patients
switch from Avonex.
Leading rival MS brands include Teva Pharmaceutical
Industries Ltd's Copaxone and its newer version, which
is taken less frequently.
Others include Bayer AG's Betaseron and Rebif
from Pfizer Inc.
Biogen said it earned $723.1 million, or $3.01 per share, in
the quarter, compared with $491 million, or $2.06 per share, a
The company's recently approved Alprolix treatment for
hemophilia posted $10.4 million in sales.
Shares of Biogen rose $33.81, or 11 percent, to $337.48 in
(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson and Caroline Humer; Editing by
Lisa Von Ahn and Jonathan Oatis)