Biogen Shares Jump on Good News on Revenue, Oral MS Drug

4/21/11

Biogen Idec’s (NASDAQ:BIIB) stock price is soaring this morning after the Weston, MA-based biotech company reported a bump in first quarter revenue and new details about a successful late-stage clinical trials for its oral multiple sclerosis drug.

Shares of Biogen were up more than 22 percent to $105.83 as of 10:23 am Eastern time. The company reported that its revenues for the first quarter increased 9 percent to $1.2 billion, aided by increased sales of its big-selling multiple sclerosis drugs natalizumab (Tysabri) and interferon beta-1a (Avonex). Also, executives during a call with investors reportedly gave more vivid details about the benefits of its oral MS drug, dimethyl fumarate (BG-12), than were provided earlier this month when the firm announced that a late-stage study of the drug was a success.

Biogen, the world’s largest provider of multiple sclerosis drugs, is aiming to extend its franchise with an oral MS pill. Its existing therapies for the disease are injected, and an oral pill could offer greater convenience to patients. In September, Swiss drugmaker Novartis was the first to gain FDA approval for an MS pill, fingolimod (Gilenya), for relapsing forms of the disease. Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:TEVA) is also in the running with an MS pill called laquinimod, which is in late-stage development.

Biogen said this morning that the firm’s oral MS drug reduced the proportion of patients who suffered relapses of the disease by 49 percent after two years compared with those on a placebo, and patients on the drug also showed a 38 percent reduction in disability progression, Reuters reported. These details build on what the company said on April 11 about the drug’s performance in a pivotal Phase III trial of 1,200 patients called DEFINE, which met its primary and secondary goals. The company is also conducting a separate Phase III trial of the drug called CONFIRM, the results of which are expected in the second half of this year.

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