Biogen dodges a patent bullet, but the nifty footwork needs to continue


An important patent win for Biogen looks to have secured vital US Tecfidera revenues to 2028; the multiple sclerosis drug is the company’s biggest seller, but generic challengers were hoping to launch low-cost versions as early as 2021. Two more legal challenges are pending, but the 17.5% jump in Biogen shares yesterday, adding around $9bn to the company’s market cap, shows that investors consider the threat largely extinguished. The sellside agrees, with several banks having already lifted their numbers, and the chart below, from EvaluatePharma Vision’s NPV Analyzer, shows how consensus could shift even higher. Biogen’s thin pipeline has left it open to criticism in recent years: Tecfidera’s longevity might be secured, but the company’s next most important asset, Spinraza for SMA, is also under threat. Roche confirmed the efficacy and clean safety with its rival therapy, risdiplam, today. Risdiplam could reach the market in a matter of months, and the Swiss firm has made no secret of its intention to compete on price. None of this might matter if the miraculously resuscitated Alzheimer’s antibody aducanumab gets to market; confirmation that the FDA will accept the project for review is the next piece of good news that investors need.

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