No one ever said the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was fast. More than four years after it started an investigation of drugmaker Biovail
Yesterday, Biovail said that it agreed to pay a $10 million fine, but didn't admit to any wrongdoing. The charges included an accusation that the company inflated its loss following a trucking accident while the drug was being shipped to its marketing partner, GlaxoSmithKline
While the SEC investigation is behind the company now, the saga is still far from over. The SEC is still investigating four officers -- two of whom still work for Biovail. The company and the four individuals also face an investigation by the Ontario Securities Commission, since Biovail is located in Canada.
It looks to me like Biovail got off pretty close to scot-free, and investors seem to agree, with the stock ending up 4.6% higher yesterday.
Unfortunately, Biovail's troubles extend beyond the SEC investigation. Revenue dropped 21% last year, thanks to Wellbutrin XL's generic competition from Teva Pharmaceuticals
Biovail's best chance at a near-term recovery was its Wellbutrin XL replacement, BFF-033, but the FDA depressed its chances of switching patients onto the new formula. An approval decision is expected to come in roughly a month before the aforementioned additional generic competition hits the market. Once patients see the lower copays, it will be extremely difficult to get them to switch to the new drug.
Looking very long-term, Biovail might be passable given its decently stocked pipeline, but it's going to need to get up and start running before any additional trucks head its way.