Technically, Acorda Therapeutics'
Unfortunately for Novartis, it looks like Gilenya's competition-free period will vanish in the not-too-distant future.
The most advanced is Merck KGaA's Movectro, but it may not be the next on the market. The German company pulled its EU application after it was clear regulators there would rebuff the drug. The Food and Drug Administration followed suit, turning down the drug last month.
In the pipeline
Last week, Biogen Idec
Adding to the mix, sanofi-aventis
The only way to know for sure which drug is better is for one of the companies to run a head-to-head clinical trial, but the data certainly seem to favor BG-12 with the substantial decrease in the annualized relapse rate.
The fight investors should be keeping their eye on is between oral drugs and those that need to be injected or infused. There's an awful lot of revenue at stake among the current needle-requiring drugs.
Teva's Copaxone is a $3.3 billion drug and Biogen's Avonex wasn't that far behind at $2.5 billion last year. Pfizer
My guess is that Tysabri, sold by Biogen and Elan
What's an investor to do?
The only pure play on multiple sclerosis is Acorda. Biogen and Elan are close, with multiple sclerosis drugs making up a majority of their options. If you're going to invest in the rest, you'll need to like their additional offerings as well.
At the moment, Biogen seems to be the best bet for driving sales forward. Coming to market after Gilenya won't be so bad; Novartis will have done the leg work, prepping doctors for the next-generation of multiple sclerosis drugs. BG-12 will likely cannibalize sales of Biogen's Avonex, but there's plenty of additional patients to steal from competing injectable drugs as well.
Pfizer is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Elan is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Novartis and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries are Motley Fool Global Gains choices. The Fool owns shares of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.