FILE PHOTO: A test tube is seen in front of displayed Biogen logo in this illustration taken, December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
By Manas Mishra
(Reuters) — Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB) on Tuesday said it expects product revenue to be flat this year as top-selling drugs face tough competition and sales of newer treatments take off slowly, and its shares fell 5% in early trading.
The U.S. biotech company also missed Wall Street expectations for quarterly revenue due to soft demand for aging multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera as it faces a generic rival, while pricey spinal muscular atrophy drug Spinraza is dealing with fresh competition.
Since CEO Christopher Viehbacher took the helm at Biogen in late 2022, the drugmaker has cut jobs, acquired rare disease drugmaker Reata $6.5 billion and abandoned controversial Alzheimer drug Aduhelm as he works to steer the company back to growth.
Biogen is counting on newer drugs, including a second approved Alzheimer’s drug Leqembi developed with Japanese partner Eisai, to drive growth for the next few years.
The Leqembi launch is expected to pick up pace gradually, Viehbacher said on a call to discuss company results.
Wall Street analysts no longer expect the drug to hit a target of 10,000 patients by March after Eisai last week said there were only 2,000 patients taking Leqembi so far.
«We have always guided investors to the fact that this would be a progressive ramp and that’s what we’re seeing. And we continue to believe in the long-term importance of Leqembi,» Viehbacher said.
Biogen said it would join Eisai in marketing the drug in the United States. The companies plan to increase the U.S. sales force by 30% as they seek to boost sales.
Biogen forecast a 2024 adjusted profit of $15 to $16 per share, compared to LSEG estimates of $15.65 per share. The midpoint of the range represents an increase of 5%, but several analyst’s notes called the forecast light.
Revenue fell 6.2% to $2.39 billion in the fourth quarter, missing estimates of $2.47 billion, according LSEG data.
Sales of Tecfidera came in at $244.3 million, below Wall Street estimates of $252.3 million.
Spinraza, which is facing competition from rival drugs made by Roche and Novartis (SIX:NOVN), brought in sales of $412.6 million, versus estimates of $442.2 million.
Sales of Skyclarys, the drug it gained through its Reata acquisition, were $55.9 million in the first few months of the drug’s launch, missing estimates of $58.8 million.