Biogen Stock Up on New MS Drug Sales

File this under 'so far, so good.' In one of the more impressive showings for a new medicine, the Tecfidera multiple sclerosis pill sold by Biogen Idec (BIIB) has been widely prescribed by physicians during its first two weeks on the market. Prescriptions for the drug, which was approved in late March by the FDA, rose 120 percent week-over-week, according to Wall Street analysts citing data from IMS Health, the market research firm. The news sent Biogen shares up, as seen in a stock chart.

BIIB Chart

BIIB data by YCharts

This is the "holy mother of all launches," writes ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum in a research note this morning. Although this is still the early going, his computer modeling now forecasts the possiblity that Tecfidera sales this year could reach $450 million, greatly exceeding the $240 million to $300 million that has been the consensus expectation on Wall Street. Of course, this presumes the prescription rate holds relatively steady and does not decline.

Just the same, he also points out that it took 22 weeks for Gilenya, the Novartis (NVS) multiple sclerosis pill, to reach the same level of prescriptions and that Tecfidera now already surpassed another relatively new treatment - Aubagio, which is sold by Sanofi (SNY) - in total prescriptions written. As a result, he posits that, for the moment, the launch is "apparently far exceeding expectations."

BIIB Revenue TTM Chart

BIIB Revenue TTM data by YCharts

If the new drug meets projections, it could become Biogen’s third largest seller quite soon. Out of corporate revenue of about $5.5 billion last year, Avonex brought in $2.9 billion and Tysabri brought in $1.1 billion. Both are also MS drugs.

To read the remainder of this article, go to Pharmalot.

Ed Silverman, a contributing editor of YCharts, is the founder and editor of Pharmalot. He previously reported on the pharmaceutical industry and other business topics for the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, New York Newsday and Investor’s Business Daily. He can be reached at



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