Biotech and Pharma

Biogen beats estimates on multiple sclerosis therapy sales

Key Points
  • Biogen beat analysts' estimates for quarterly profit and lifted its 2019 earnings forecast.
  • Results were driven by higher sales of its top-selling multiple sclerosis therapy Tecfidera.
  • Shares of the company were marginally up in volatile early trade, having given up their early gains as investors worried over the long-term prospects of Biogen's most closely watched growth driver Spinraza.
A Biogen Idec lab technician
Suzanne Kreiter | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

Drugmaker Biogen beat analysts' estimates for quarterly profit and lifted its 2019 earnings forecast on Tuesday, driven by higher sales of its top-selling multiple sclerosis therapy Tecfidera.

Shares of the company were marginally up in volatile early trade, having given up their early gains as investors worried over the long-term prospects of Biogen's most closely watched growth driver Spinraza.

Spinraza is the first approved treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and has been a major focus for investors. Sales from the drug rose 15.4% to $488 million in the second quarter, but missed estimates of $535.1 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The company said overseas sales of Spinraza came under pressure from pricing adjustment in France and as patients moved to a lower-priced maintenance dose from an induction dose in some mature markets.

The recent launch of Zolgensma, Novartis' one-time gene therapy for SMA, is expected to further eat into Spinraza sales.

Zolgensma may take time to cannibalize Spinraza given its narrow initial label said RBC analyst Brian Abrahams, but noted that the Q2 sales miss could prompt the Street to become more conservative on expectations for out-year sales of Spinraza.

Biogen said it has not seen a meaningful impact from Zolgensma till date.

The company raised its 2019 adjusted earnings forecast to between $31.50 and $32.30 per share from the prior range of $28 to $29. Analysts were expecting $29.70 per share.

Tecfidera brought in $1.15 billion in second-quarter sales, beating estimates of $1.05 billion. The drug, however, faces patent challenges and is losing market share to newer treatments such as Roche's Ocrevus.

Net income attributable to the company rose 72% to $1.49 billion in the quarter ended June 30.