Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Bengaluru — Biogen’s share dived 8% on Tuesday after US sales of Spinraza, a potential blockbuster drug it is banking on to offset slowing sales of multiple sclerosis drugs, fell short of Wall Street estimates in the latest quarter.

Spinraza, a spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) drug, generated $197.6m in US sales in the third quarter, lagging analysts’ average estimate of $242m, according to broker SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.

The shortfall was due to the dosing regimen of the drug, which was approved in December, as fewer patients took the more frequent "loading", or initial, dose, Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said on an earnings call.

The treatment starts with four loading doses, followed by maintenance doses once every four months. The first three loading doses are taken at 14-day intervals and the last 30 days after the third, meaning all four can be taken in one quarter.

Many patients who took the loading doses in the second quarter did not get a loading dose in the latest quarter and instead took a maintenance dose, Vounatsos said.

He estimated that the effect of the dosing schedule was likely to mean that Spinraza’s revenue growth in the current quarter would be driven mostly by nonUS markets.

Spinraza costs $750,000 for the first year and $375,000 a year after that to treat SMA, a rare disorder that is the leading genetic cause of death in infants.

Biogen is banking on Spinraza to offset slowing growth of its best-selling multiple sclerosis (MS) drug, Tecfidera, which is facing stiff competition from Roche’s Ocrevus and Sanofi’s Aubagio.

Vounatsos estimated Ocrevus would have a "modest net negative impact" on Biogen’s MS portfolio, which also includes Tysabri, for the rest of 2017.

Tecfidera’s sales dipped 3.5% to $1.07bn in the quarter, and also missed analysts’ estimates of $1.09bn.

Biogen’s profit rose 18.7% to $1.23bn in the quarter ended September 30, as expenses dropped nearly 7%. Excluding one-time items, it earned $6.31 per share.

Total revenue climbed 4.1% to $3.08bn, helped by strong international sales of Spinraza.

Analysts on average had estimated a profit of $5.73 per share and revenue of $3.04bn, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Biogen’s shares fell as much as 8.1% in early trading on Tuesday, before easing to trade down 6% at $307.50.


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