Tysabri Is Back!

All the worry about slowing adoption of Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB  ) and Elan's (NYSE: ELN  ) multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri seems to have been for naught. Despite increasing numbers of patients on Tysabri coming down with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) -- a life-threatening brain infection -- sales looked pretty good last quarter.

Not only were worldwide sales of Tysabri up 27% to $254 million, but patients are moving onto the drug at a quickening pace. In the first quarter of the year, the companies added about 170 patients per week, while in the second quarter that number increased to more than 260 per week.

There's some concern Biogen and Elan might lose revenue if patients start taking drug holidays to remove the Tysabri from their bodies. (Tysabri inhibits the immune system, which is believed to allow the brain infection.) Fortunately, there doesn't seem to be much of that going on, with revenue per patient holding relatively steady.

 

Q1 2008

Q2 2008

Q3 2008

Q4 2008

Q1 2009

Q2 2009

U.S. Tysabri Sales (in millions)

$86

$99

$122

$115

$116

$125

Approximate Number of Commercial U.S. Patients on Tysabri

15,300

17,800

19,500

20,200

20,800

22,000

Revenue per Patient

$5,621

$5,562

$6,256

$5,693

$5,577

$5,682

Source: Company press releases.

The good news for Biogen didn't stop with Tysabri. Sales of its other multiple sclerosis drug, Avonex, grew 12%, thanks in part to price increases. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) and Teva Pharmaceutical (Nasdaq: TEVA  ) have also raised the price of their multiple sclerosis drugs, but investors shouldn't count on price increases for continued growth, especially as leaders in Washington try to get health-care costs under control.

Contrary to Carl Icahn's view, I think Biogen is in a pretty good position right now. It recently licensed the rights to an Acorda Therapeutics' (Nasdaq: ACOR  ) drug to help multiple sclerosis patients walk, and its pipeline is progressing -- albeit at a slower pace than most investors would hope for. As long as Biogen can keep Tysabri sales growing at a decent pace, investors should be rewarded while they wait.

Don't wait! Read this Foolishness now:

Biogen is a former Stock Advisor pick. Click here to start a 30-day risk-free trial of the newsletter and see all the Gardner brothers' current recommendations.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Elan is a Rule Breakers recommendation. Pfizer is a Inside Value pick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (15)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 943955, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 11/26/2014 11:27:58 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement