Biogen gears up for a big clearout

It is not just Novartis that is having a spring clean, with Biogen today canning various projects in a prelude to a bigger cull. The group said during its first-quarter earnings today that it was starting a new cost-cutting programme, with more details due mid-year. “We’re looking at every programme in great depth, several times over,” said Priya Singhal, head of development. One asset that appears to be safe is the tau-targeting antisense project BIIB080, with Biogen execs highlighting recent phase 1b data and the group’s desire to build an Alzheimer’s franchise. Investors are also hoping to see deals under the group's new chief executive Chris Viehbacher, who today highlighted immunology, rare diseases and neuropsychiatry as potential avenues for external growth. He later raised the possibility of “tuck-in acquisitions on the rare side” and added that, overall, the group “would be more inclined to find something revenue generating in the near term”. These sorts of assets will surely be in high demand, and Biogen faces a delicate balancing act as it looks to transform from a multiple sclerosis company into something broader.

Biogen's refocus begins: recent discontinuations/pauses
Project Indication(s) Note
BIIB093 (via Remedy Pharmaceuticals) Large hemispheric infarction (ph3) & brain contusion (ph2) Terminating involvement
BIIB131 (TMS-007, via TMS) Acute ischaemic stroke Ph2 trial initiation paused
BIIB132 (via Ionis) Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 (ph1) Discontinued
Ophthalmology projects Eye diseases Exiting ophthalmology
Gene therapy projects Various "Refocus" on delivery
Source: company Q1 2023 earnings release & call.

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