Biogen's third-quarter revenue climbs 12 percent, topping forecasts, boosted by sales of Spinraza, biosimilars

Headline results for the third quarter:

Revenue

$3.4 billion (forecasts of $3.3 billion)

+12%

Profit

$1.4 billion

+18%

Note: All changes are versus the prior-year period unless otherwise stated

What the company said:

"Reported revenues grew at a double-digit rate boosted by strong gains from Spinraza, our biosimilars business and Ocrevus royalties versus a year ago," CEO Michel Vounatsos commented. The executive added that the multiple sclerosis business "was relatively resilient during the quarter," noting that the spinal muscular atrophy treatment Spinraza saw an 11 percent increase in new patient demand among adults in the US, while "strong patient uptake" was seen in a number of other markets.

Other results:

  • Multiple sclerosis product sales: $2.3 billion, flat versus prior-year period, with revenue helped by US price increases
    • Tecfidera: $1.1 billion, up 2 percent, broadly in line with predictions
    • Tysabri: $470 million, flat versus prior-year period, but topping forecasts of $452 million
    • Avonex: $482 million, down 10 percent
    • Plegridy: $108 million, down 13 percent
  • Spinraza: $468 million, up 73 percent, beating estimates of $448 million
  • Rituxan/Gazyva: $375 million, up 10 percent
  • Ocrevus royalties: $137 million, up 112 percent
  • Biosimilars: $135 million, up 33 percent
What analysts said:
 
"All in all, top- and bottom-line beat should lead to a modest positive reaction and alleviate any near-term concerns on the ongoing core business," remarked Jefferies analyst Michael Yee. 
 
Looking ahead:
 
"We have some very important results in the coming months," Vounatsos noted, with the company set to present Phase Ib data later this week at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) annual meeting for the experimental Alzheimer's disease drug aducanumab. Partner Eisai is also expected to report results at the meeting from a mid-stage study of the anti-amyloid beta antibody BAN2401, as well as Phase II findings for the BACE inhibitor elenbecestat. "In the meantime, we deliver, we tighten the belts, and we are evaluating opportunities," Vounatsos added.
 
Pipeline update:
 
Biogen disclosed that a Phase IIb study of vixotrigine, also known as BIIB074, in painful lumbosacral radiculopathy failed to meet its primary or secondary efficacy endpoints. The company, which gained the drug via its purchase of Convergence Pharmaceuticals for $200 million upfront in 2015, will discontinue development in this indication, while delaying a Phase III study of the Nav 1.7 ion channel inhibitor in trigeminal neuralgia as it awaits feedback from the FDA.
Biogen and partner UCB also announced Tuesday that a Phase IIb study of the experimental drug dapirolizumab pegol in adults with moderately-to-severely active systemic lupus erythematosus failed to meet its primary endpoint.   

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