July 22 The death of a patient who had taken
Biogen Idec Inc's new multiple sclerosis drug,
Tecfidera, was unlikely to be linked to the medicine, the
company said on Monday.
Biogen said it was made aware last week of the death of a
59-year-old woman who had been treated with Tecfidera, and that
it was actively gathering facts about the case.
Based on the circumstances of the case and the cause of
death, "a link to Tecfidera is unlikely," said Biogen
spokeswoman Kate Niazi-Sai.
"The patient was not on Tecfidera at the time of death," she
Tecfidera, which is widely expected to become the No. 1 oral
treatment for the disease, with annual sales of more than $3
billion, was launched in April. Biogen is expected to report
sales for the drug's first few weeks on the market on Thursday.
The patient had taken Tecfidera for a little over five
weeks, but discontinued using the drug due to gastrointestinal
(GI) problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea, Biogen said.
She had been off the drug for more than two weeks prior to
her death, which was reported as caused by a type of pneumonia
more common to MS patients and not due to GI events, the company
The death was first reported by BioPharm Insight, and it
briefly sent the company's shares down more than 3 percent
before they rebounded. They closed up 0.6 percent at $231.67 on
"I see this as a non-issue," Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst at
ISI Group, told clients in an email.