Biogen Idec discloses annual price for oral multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera

Biogen Idec announced Friday that it will price its oral multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) at $54 900 per patient per year. The company also said the drug, which was approved by the FDA on March 27, will become available to patients "on or around" April 1.

Tony Kingsley, Biogen Idec's executive vice president for commercial operations, described the price as "appropriate," adding that "we look at it in comparison to the alternatives on the market and the investment we’ve made." The amount is lower than the $60 000 annual cost for Novartis' Gilenya (fingolimod), and Jefferies analyst Thomas Wei noted "that a modest level of price discounting could facilitate very rapid adoption in the market." However, pricing for Tecfidera is higher than Sanofi's Aubagio (teriflunomide), which costs $45 000 annually, and is also more than the $51 000 annual cost that fund managers polled by ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum had expected for the drug. See ViewPoints: As Biogen Idec's Tecfidera nears approval, pricing strategy moves into focus.

Meanwhile, Canaccord Genuity analyst Ritu Baral suggested that "Street expectations for Tecfidera's launch may be aggressive given MS [doctors'] conservatism." Baral added that "we expect the early phase may miss consensus and drive volatility, but see long-term value in Tecfidera's ultimate blockbuster potential." Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Geoffrey Porges projected Tecfidera sales would reach $250 million this year, increasing to $1.8 billion in 2015 and $2.7 billion in 2017. The consensus among analysts and physicians (see Spotlight On: Five key facts about Biogen Idec's Tecfidera) suggests that the drug will become the first choice of treatment for MS despite being the third oral drug to market after Gilenya and Aubagio.

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