Market Overview

Biogen Drug 'Increasingly Vulnerable,' Analyst Warns After Speaking With MS Expert

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  • Shares of Biogen Inc (NASDAQ: BIIB), AbbVie Inc (NYSE: ABBV), Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR) (NYSE: TEVA) have been under significant pressure over the past one month.
  • Piper Jaffray’s Joshua E. Schimmer said that the share of Biogen’s Tecfidera is expected to remain flat.

Analyst Joshua Schimmer said that talks with a high volume multiple sclerosis [MS] specialist indicated that several patients continued to be managed with injectables. The expert does not foresee switching a large number of patients to oral drugs, including Biogen’s Tecfidera. This is primarily because the age profile of the MS patient population and safety / tolerability issues restricted switching.

The Tecfidera DTC campaign has not resulted in increased requests for drug. Schimmer commented, “While her [the MS expert] commentary reflects only her own practice, it did suggest to us that BIIB's franchise is increasingly vulnerable, and Roche's ocrelizumab is well positioned.”

As the population of MS patients continues to age (an interesting dynamic which seems poorly understood), the specialist noted many of her older patients on Tecfidera will suffer from substantial drops in lymphocyte counts, and consequently often switches them back to injectable therapies with established safety and tolerability profiles (e.g., Copaxone (TEVA), interferons), or to Aubagio.

Despite some older patients not being able to switch to Tecfidera, many younger patients are initiating treatment on the drug either as a first line treatment or after Teva’s Copaxone or interferons fail to adequately control the disease.

“The specialist was very excited about the prospects for ocrelizumab in PPMS as well as relapsing forms of MS, particularly in patients with active disease as the drug reduces relapses as well as slows underlying progression through an attractive mechanism in her view,” Schimmer mentioned.

 

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Posted-In: Joshua E. Schimmer Piper JaffrayAnalyst Color

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