If you just ignore the year-over-year fundamentals, it was a great quarter for Biogen Idec
First, those numbers: Revenue was down $4 million, but let's call it flat considering the company brings in $1.2 billion a quarter. Adjusted income attributable to Biogen was down 3%, as selling and general costs rose despite the flat sales. EPS was up 4%, but that's only because the company bought back shares since this time last year. Not exactly anything to start salivating about.
Dive a little deeper, though, and things start to look more interesting. Sales of Tysabri, which Biogen markets with Elan
Tysabri works extremely well at keeping the progression of multiple sclerosis at bay, but it inhibits the immune system enough that a small number of patients develop a potentially fatal brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML. The key is to convince patients that the risk is worth the benefit.
Biogen has developed a test for the virus that causes PML to try and stratify the risk. If you don't have the virus in your system, your chance of developing PML is greatly reduced. The test is available in Europe, which likely explains some of the patients starting Tysabri, and Biogen expects the test will be available in the U.S. in the next few months.
While Biogen's second-quarter numbers weren't all that impressive, there doesn't seem to be any reason to think that Tysabri can't continue to accelerate, making for impressive quarters in the coming year.
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