Look out, Amgen
Currently, the multibillion-dollar moderate-to-severe psoriasis market is chiefly divided among Amgen's Enbrel, J&J's Remicade, and Abbott's Humira -- all protein-based drugs that must be injected. There is some big money to be made in this market, with a year's worth of treatments costing upwards of $10,000, and since there's no cure for psoriasis, this is a long-lasting revenue stream.
Naturally, insurance companies, who are usually paying for these medicines, would love to shell out less for an equivalent small-molecule (read: pill) treatment. And of course any patient who has to pay out-of-pocket would jump at a less-costly treatment.
Enter Biogen-Idec and Fumapharm. They have taken their psoriasis-treating pill, BG-12, through a phase 3 trial in Germany and significantly reduced psoriasis symptoms in patients. According to the companies, the median reduction in psoriasis severity was 68% in patients taking their pills versus only 10% in placebo.
While the company is still sifting through the data to determine the number of patients who have reached the gold standard reduction in symptoms of 75% (the PASI 75 score), given a median reduction of 68%, it's safe to say that probably around 40% achieved that treatment level. This percentage would correspond to the results in the phase 2 trial of this compound.
Those results and a low incidence of side effects would put BG-12 on par with Raptiva, a biological therapeutic sold by Genentech
Despite all the bad news surrounding Biogen, investors should consider taking a second look at the company's prospects. Trading at 30 times EV/EBITDA, it's certainly not cheap, but it's a better value than it has been in a long time. With a psoriasis-fighting pill potentially coming online in Europe and eventually in the U.S., along with an expanded indication for Rituxan in rheumatoid arthritis, there are silver linings to the Tysabri cloud that settled over sunny, San Diego-based Biogen.
David Gardner recommended Biogen for Motley Fool Stock Advisor subscribers. You can learn which other companies David has highlighted as promising investment opportunities by subscribing today. There's a six-month money-back guarantee if you aren't completely satisfied.
Fool contributor David Nierengarten , Ph.D., often contributes to Fool.com, is an active member of the TMF community as DavidMN, and enjoys the Biotechnology discussion board. He owns shares of Johnson & Johnson and Amgen.