- Biogen kept mum on when it planned to replace recently ousted CEO George Scangos or who the successor might be during a third quarter earnings call Wednesday.
- The Cambridge, MA biotech did signal, however, increased confidence in its Alzheimer's drug aducanumab after an interim analysis of a Phase 1b study reaffirmed the treatment's effectiveness. The company plans to unveil additional data from that study at the Clinical Trials on Alzheimer's Disease conference in December.
- On the other hand, Biogen is ditching the autoimmune medication MT-1303 (amiselimod), which it licensed from Mitsubishi Tanabe in 2015 for $60 million upfront. The drug "wasn't as good of a fit," as others in the portfolio, and the company opted to redirect resources, said Michael Ehlers, head of R&D at Biogen.
While more information about Biogen's Alzheimer's offerings won't come until the end of the year, the company addressed how its drug stacked up to Eli Lilly's much-watched solanezumab.
"We think if there were positive results out of the solanezumab trial this would give great credence to the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer's disease, and I think bode well for the potential results of aducanumab," Ehlers said, adding that, though similar, the mechanisms for action for the two drugs are very different.
"However … we believe it will be much more difficult to make a conclusion about a negative result on solanezumab vis-a-vis the potential results of aducanumab," he said.
Biogen danced over some highly anticipated talking points — namely corporate leadership, the spinoff of its hemophilia business. Company execs spent a good portion of the call explaining multiple sclerosis (MS) performance and approval updates for Nusinersen, a pipeline drug for spinal muscle atrophy, or SMA, in infants.
Nusinersen saw positive interim results in a Phase 3 trial. The company has submitted it for approval with the Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency.
Blockbuster MS drug Tecfidera saw worldwide sales rise 10% year-over-year. A European patient base that grew by 30% since the third quarter last year and an inventory build in U.S. channels contributed to that growth, although trade dynamics and foreign exchange checked some of those tailwinds.
Tysabri, another hot MS drug, saw sales increase 7% year-over-year to $515 million.
Third quarter revenues from Biogen's MS portfolio were $2.28 billion, a 3% gain from the same period in 2015, while overall revenues jumped 6% to about $3 billion year-over-year.
The biotech's stock was up a little over 4% in early trading Wednesday.