Biogen (BIIB) Q4 2023 quarterly earnings

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Biogen facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Brian Snyder | Reuters

Biogen On Tuesday, it reported revenue and profit in the fourth quarter that were down from a year ago, as it recorded costs related to the release of its controversial Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm and as sales of ‘ decline in its multiple sclerosis treatments, the company’s largest drug division.

Biogen posted sales of $2.39 billion for the quarter, down 6% from the same period a year ago. 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 a year ago. Adjusting for one-time items, the company reported earnings of $2.95 per share.

The drugmaker’s fourth-quarter earnings per share, both unchanged and adjusted, saw a negative impact of 35 cents related to previously disclosed costs for withdrawing Aduhelm, which had a polarizing license and distribution in the SA

Biogen is cutting costs as it raises its hopes for its other Alzheimer’s drugs, including its intensive treatment Leqembi, and other newly launched products to replace dwindling income from his multiple sclerosis treatments.

Here’s what Biogen said for the fourth quarter compared to Wall Street expectations, based on a survey of analysts by LSEG:

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

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

The drugmaker said it expects 2024 sales to decline by a low to mid-single-digit percentage compared to 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.

decline in sales of multiple sclerosis drugs

Biogen’s fourth-quarter revenue from multiple sclerosis products fell 8% to $1.17 billion as some of its treatments face competition from cheaper genes.

The company’s once-biggest drug Tecfidera, which faces competition from a generic rival, posted revenue that fell 17.8% to $244.3 million in the fourth quarter. Analysts had expected drug sales of $233.1 million, according to FactSet.

Vumerity, an oral medication for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, generated $156.4 million in sales. That came in below analysts’ estimates of $174.4 million, FactSet estimates said.

“We’ve had several years of declining revenue and profitability, which is not unusual when you’re dealing with a patent decline,” Biogen CEO Christopher Viehbacher told reporters on press release Tuesday. He said one of the key ways Biogen will return to growth is to “reposition the company away from our legacy multiple sclerosis franchise toward new products.”

Meanwhile, Biogen’s rare disease drugs recorded $471.8 million in sales, up 3% from the same period a year ago.

Spinraza, a medication used to treat a rare neuromuscular disorder called spinal cord atrophy, recorded $412.6 million in sales. That came in below analysts’ estimates of $443.4 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

Biogen’s biosimilar drugs booked $188.2 million in sales, up 8% from the prior year. Analysts had expected sales of $196.7 million from these medications.

Leqembi, other new drugs

The results come amid the spread of Biogen and he iss Leqembi, which became the first drug discovered to slow the progression of the disease to be approved in the US in July.

Eisai, which reported earnings last week, recorded $7 million in fourth-quarter revenue and $10 million in full-year sales from Leqembi.

Biogen CEO Christopher Viehbacher told reporters at a media briefing Tuesday that Leqembi currently has about 2,000 patients. That makes Biogen’s target of 10,000 patients by the end of March 2024 look harder to hit, but Viehbacher emphasized that the company is more focused on Leqembi’s long-term reach than meeting to that criterion.

“I think the important thing is that now we are making progress,” he told reporters. “The 10,000 is not very hard and I think we are a – now focusing heavily on commercial plans – how do we get to the next 100,000?”

Notably, the low adoption rate isn’t due to a lack of demand: About 8,000 US patients are currently waiting for treatment, Eisai officials said on an earnings call last week.

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

Leqembi is currently given twice a month through the veins, a method known as intravenous infusion. The injectable form would be a new and more convenient option for administering antibody treatment to patients, which could pave the way for higher uptake.

But investors are also eyeing other drugs that have been launched.

That includes Skyclarys from Biogen’s acquisition of Reata Pharmaceuticals in July. That drug brought in $56 million in revenue in the fourth quarter, according to Biogen.

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

On Monday, EU regulators approved Skyclarys for the treatment of Friedreich’s ataxia in patients aged 16 and over.

Biogen has also partnered with Sage Therapeutics on the first pill for postpartum depression, which won FDA approval in August. But the agency refused to clear the drug for major depressive disorder, which is a much bigger commercial opportunity.

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

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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