Biogen's 'active woman' Tecfidera ad will go off air soon
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated several Tecfidera patients died from progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).
- Biogen's Tecfidera ad featuring a woman with multiple sclerosis (MS) hiking, swimming and socializing is viewed by many as unrealistic, though it seems to have raised awareness of the condition. Biogen won't know for sure how well it worked until the end of this quarter.
- According to CFO, Paul Clancy, Biogen won't be doing any television advertising in the near future, but will continue to focus on print and digital channels, according to a report in FiercePharma.
- Last year, the FDA issued a warning that Tecfidera is associated with an increased risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare brain infection that killed one Tecfidera patient. That warning led to a wave of discontinuations, but the trend seems to be leveling off.
By this summer, the happy, active Tecfidera patient featured in Biogen's DTC spot will no longer be televised. However, all things seem to point to the idea that the ad did raise awareness -- although some of the buzz could have been driven by incredulity.
Tecfidera sales were up 15% quarter over quarter, coming in at $946 million for the first quarter of the year in line with analysts' expectations. For the quarter, Biogen reported $970.9 million in profits, up from $822.5 million last year. Overall revenues for the quarter were $2.73 billion, up 6.7% year-over-year.
It's not all roses though. Biogen received subpoenas related to government investigations in March, due to concerns about their sales and promotional practices. In addition, one of the company's older MS drugs, Avonex, which was approved in 1996 has started to fall out of favor and lose sales to newer drugs. Sales were down 19% quarter over quarter to $564 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.