Biogen Idec Raises Its Forecast Following Strong MS Drug Sales

If its third-quarter results are any indiciation, then biopharmaceutical giant Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB  ) means business when it comes to treating multiple sclerosis.

For the quarter, Biogen Idec delivered a whopping 32% increase in sales to $1.8 billion on adjusted earnings of $2.35 per share, which is a 23% improvement over the previous year. Comparatively speaking, Wall Street consensus estimates called for just $1.78 billion in revenue and $2.11 in EPS.

There were three primary growth drivers behind Biogen Idec's sales surge.

First, there's Tecfidera, the company's first-line therapy for treating relapsing multiple sclerosis, or MS, that was approved in late March. During the third quarter Tecfidera sales soared to $284 million -- a 47.9% sequential increase from the second-quarter -- and it became the leading MS treatment prescribed in the United States, according to IMS. At this pace Tecfidera will become a blockbuster drug within its first 12 months on the market.

Second, Biogen Idec saw the benefits of capturing 100% of Tysabri's revenue stream, which it gained when it purchased Elan's stake in Tysabri for $3.25 billion back in early February. Therefore, even with Tysabri's global in-market sales remaining flat, Biogen saw its share of revenue from Tysabri jump 46% to $401 million.

Finally, cancer drug Rituxan, from which it receives a percentage of sales in conjunction with Roche's Genentech, saw sales improve modestly by 5% to $303 million.

If there was one negative to nitpick it was that sales of its current best-selling MS drug, Avonex, actually fell 0.4% year-over-year to $733 million. However, a more likely explanation for this drop is the uptick in sales of Tecfidera, so it's hardly a huge hit for Biogen.

To add the icing on the cake, Biogen upped its full-year forecast and is now calling for revenue growth of 23% to 25% and adjusted EPS in the range of $8.65 to $8.85.

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