Biogen reaches $1.25-billion settlement, licensing agreement with Forward Pharma in MS drug patent dispute

Biogen announced Tuesday that it has agreed to enter a $1.25-billion settlement and licensing agreement with Forward Pharma under which it will obtain an irrevocable license to all of the latter's intellectual property. Biogen's newly appointed CEO Michel Vounatsos said "we believe this agreement will clarify and strengthen our intellectual property" for the multiple sclerosis (MS) drug Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate). Shares in Forward Pharma jumped as much as 69 percent on the news. 

Biogen noted that the agreement does not settle pending issues in an ongoing interference proceeding in the US, nor those under review in an opposition proceeding in Europe, saying the companies have agreed to let the relevant patent bodies and courts make final determinations in the cases before them. Forward Pharma has argued that Biogen infringed on its patent regarding the dosage of dimethyl fumarate in Tecfidera. Depending on how the cases turn out, the agreement calls for Biogen to also pay Forward Pharma royalties on net sales of Biogen MS products that are protected by the Forward Pharma patent.

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Commenting on the news, RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Yee said the agreement was important for Biogen, as a patent cliff on Tecfidera could have stunted the drugmaker's growth after 2020 and hurt shareholders. 

Tecfidera was cleared in the US in 2013 and in Europe the following year. Analysts anticipate sales of about $4 billion for the drug in 2016. 

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