Biogen (BIIB) earnings Q4 2023

A Biogen facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

Biogenic Tuesday reported Fourth quarter revenue and profit down compared to last year, following the recording of charges linked to the abandonment of its controversial drug against Alzheimer's disease. Aduhelm and as sales fell in its multiple sclerosis therapiesthe company's largest drug category.

Biogen reported revenue of $2.39 billion for the quarter, down 6% from the same period last year. It reported net income of $249.7 billion, or $1.71 per share, for the fourth quarter, down from net income of $550.4 billion, or $3.79 per share, for the same period last year. Including one-time items, the company reported $2.95 per share.

The pharmaceutical maker's fourth-quarter earnings per share, both unadjusted and adjusted, saw a negative impact of 35 cents associated with the previously revealed costs of withdrawing Aduhelm, which has had a polarizing approval and rollout in the United States. United.

Biogen is cutting costs while pinning hopes on its other Alzheimer's drugs, including its closely watched treatment, Leqembi, and other recently launched products to replace declining revenues from its multiple sclerosis therapies .

Shares of Biogen fell nearly 7% Tuesday morning.

Here's what Biogen reported for the fourth trimester compared to what Wall Street expected, based on a survey of analysts by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv:

  • Earnings per share: $2.95 adjusted versus $3.18 expected
  • Revenue: $2.39 billion versus $2.47 billion expected

Also Tuesday, Biogen released full-year 2024 guidance that calls for adjusted earnings of $15 to $16 per share. Analysts polled by LSEG expected full-year earnings of $15.65 per share.

The pharmaceutical maker said it expects its 2024 sales to decline by a low to mid-single digit percentage from last year. But the company expects its pharmaceutical revenue, which includes product revenue and its 50% share of Leqembi sales, to be flat this year compared to 2023.

Sales of multiple sclerosis drugs fall

Biogen's fourth-quarter revenue from multiple sclerosis products fell 8 percent to $1.17 billion as some treatments faced competition from cheaper generics.

The company's once-blockbuster drug Tecfidera, which faces competition from a generic rival, reported fourth-quarter revenue down 17.8% to $244.3 million. Analysts expected the drug to achieve sales of $233.1 million, according to FactSet.

Vumerity, an oral medication for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, generated revenue of $156.4 million. This amount is lower than analysts' estimates of $174.4 million, according to FactSet estimates.

“We've had several years of declining revenue and profits, which is not unusual when it comes to patent expirations,” Biogen CEO Christopher Viehbacher told reporters on a call to the media on Tuesday. He added that one of the key ways Biogen will return to growth is to “reposition the company away from its legacy multiple sclerosis franchise and into new products.”

Meanwhile, Biogen's rare disease drugs reported revenue of $471.8 million, up 3% from the same period last year.

Spinraza, a drug used to treat a rare neuromuscular disease called spinal muscular atrophy, reported revenue of $412.6 million. That matched analysts' estimate of revenue of $443.4 million, according to FactSet.

Biogen's biosimilar drugs reported revenue of $188.2 million, up 8% from the prior-year period. Analysts expected sales of $196.7 million for the drugs.

Leqembi, other new medicines

The results come as part of the deployment of Biogen and Eisai's Leqembi, which became the first drug capable of slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease, to be approved in the United States in July.

Eisai, which reported results last week, reported fourth-quarter revenue of $7 million and full-year revenue of $10 million for Leqembi.

Biogen CEO Viehbacher told reporters on the media call Tuesday that there are currently about 2,000 patients on Leqembi. Biogen's goal of 10,000 patients by the end of March 2024 therefore appears increasingly difficult to achieve, but Viehbacher emphasized that the company is more focused on the long-term reach of Leqembi rather than this goal.

“I think the important thing is that we are now making progress,” he told reporters. “The 10,000 mark is not really difficult and I think we are now really focusing on the business plans: how do we get to the next 100,000?”

Notably, the low adoption rate is not due to a lack of demand: Some 8,000 U.S. patients are currently waiting to receive treatment, Eisai executives said on a conference call last week.

The companies are also working toward Food and Drug Administration approval of an injectable version of Leqembi, which showed promising early results in a clinical trial in October.

Leqembi is currently administered twice a month through a vein, a method known as an intravenous infusion. The injectable form would provide a new and more convenient option for delivering the antibody treatment to patients, which could pave the way for higher adoption.

But investors also have their eyes on other recently launched drugs.

This includes Skyclarys from Biogen's acquisition of Reata Pharmaceuticals in July. This drug generated $56 million in revenue in the fourth quarter, according to Biogen.

The FDA approved Skyclarys last year, making it the first approved treatment for Friedreich's ataxia, a rare inherited degenerative disease that can impair walking and coordination in children as young as 5 years old.

On Monday, European regulators approved Skyclarys for the treatment of Friedreich's ataxia in patients aged 16 years and older.

Biogen has also partnered with Sage Therapeutic on the first pill for postpartum depression, which won FDA approval in August. But the agency declined to approve the drug for major depressive disorder, representing a much bigger business opportunity.

Biogen said that pill, called Zurzuvae, generated about $2 million in revenue in the fourth quarter.

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