Biogen raises the stakes


With generic competition eating into sales of Tecfidera, and the follow-on project Vumerity missing analyst forecasts, Biogen’s fate is tied ever closer to its Alzheimer’s candidate aducanumab. At least six biosimilars to Tecfidera are on the market, the company said on a conference call today, and third-quarter sales of the MS therapy were down 15%, forcing the group to cut its overall 2020 guidance. In July, before the launch of the first Tecfidera generic, the company's 2020 sales were pegged at $13.8-14.2bn; this now stands at $13.2-13.4bn. Elsewhere, Biogen discontinued its anti-Lingo-1 multiple sclerosis project opicinumab following its failure in the phase II Affinity trial; the project had already flunked the Synergy study. Sales of Biogen's spinal muscular atrophy therapy Spinraza are drifting too, down 10%. Everything now hinges on the approval of aducanumab, and Biogen's decision today to buy back nearly $5bn of its own stock rather than doing transformative M&A will be seen as unimaginative. The FDA adcom on November 6 is more crucial than ever.

Selected Biogen drugs' performance
Project Actual Q3 2020 Chg yr over yr Chg vs Q3 2020 consensus forecasts 
Tecfidera 953  (15%)  (15%)
Vumerity 15 -  (95%)
Avonex + Plegridy 474  (11%) 2%
Tysabri 516 7% 17%
Spinraza 495  (10%)  (4%)
Source: company release & Bernstein.

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