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Biogen Exceeds Profit Projections As Cost Reduction Begins

As cost reductions take effect, Biogen exceeds profit projections, and the launch of the Alzheimer’s medication Leqembi is up

Biogen exceeded analysts’ expectations with its first-quarter profit as sales of Leqembi, the company’s much-anticipated Alzheimer’s medication, exceeded expectations and the company’s cost-cutting measures took effect.
Leqembi’s sales for the quarter totaled about $19 million, which is a higher amount than the $10 million the medication made the previous year.

According to Biogen, the number of patients receiving the medication has climbed by over 2.5 times since the end of 2023.

Biogen revealed first-quarter profit on Wednesday that beyond forecasts as the company’s cost-cutting measures paid off and sales of its carefully monitored Alzheimer’s medication, Leqembi, exceeded projections.

In July, Biogen and Eisai’s Leqembi became the first medication to be approved in the United States that was found to reduce the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. The treatment’s uptake has been slow at first, but at the end of the first quarter, it seemed to be picking up speed.

Leqembi’s sales for the quarter were approximately $19 million, which is a higher amount than the $10 million the medicine made the previous year. Based on FactSet projections, that far exceeds the $11 million that experts had predicted.

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According to Biogen, the number of patients receiving the medication has climbed by over 2.5 times since the end of 2023. The business also said that a significant increase in new Leqembi users occurred in March, accounting for over 20% of all patients already on the treatment

Biogen did not disclose the precise count of Leqembi-using patients. However, Biogen CEO Chris Viehbacher reported to reporters in February that the current Leqembi patient count was about 2,000. Prior to February, Biogen and Eisai had stated that they would not be able to treat 10,000 patients by March.

During a Wednesday earnings call, Viehbacher stated that Biogen is seeing a “awful lot of momentum” in the Leqembi rollout and anticipates a quarter-over-quarter growth in the number of patients; however, that increase may not be linear. To promote Leqembi’s launch, he mentioned that Biogen intends to increase its U.S. marketing staff by thirty percent.

Leqembi’s requirements, such as twice-monthly injections and routine brain scans, have created bottlenecks that have hindered the drug’s absorption, he said.

The business, which is cutting expenses and witnessing a sharp decline in sales of its multiple sclerosis therapies—some of which are facing generic competition—hopes that the medication and other recently introduced products will spur growth.

In the wake of the findings, Biogen’s shares increased by 6% on Wednesday.

Based on an LSEG survey of analysts, this is how Biogen’s first-quarter results compared to what Wall Street was expecting:

Earnings per share: $3.67 adjusted vs. $3.45 expected

Revenue: $2.29 billion vs. $2.31 billion expected

The biotech company reported $2.29 billion in sales for the quarter, which is 7% less than it did a year earlier. Its net income for the first quarter increased from $387.9 million, or $2.67 per share, to $393.4 million, or $2.70 per share, compared to the same period last year.

Adjusting for one-time items, the company reported earnings of $3.67 per share.

Biogen restated its $15–$16 per share adjusted earnings target for the full year 2024. LSEG conducted a survey of analysts, and they predicted full-year earnings projection of $15.49 per share.

Additionally, the business restated its sales projection for 2024, which calls for a low- to mid-single-digit percentage reduction over the previous year.

Recently released medications surpass projections

Investors are keeping a watch on several recently released medications in addition to Leqembi.

Skyclarys was one of the companies brought in by Biogen’s July acquisition of Reata Pharmaceuticals. Revenue from that medication in the first quarter was $78 million.

A $68.8 million sales figure was what analysts had predicted, based on projections from FactSet.

Skyclarys is the first licensed treatment for Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare genetic degenerative illness that can affect walking and coordination in children as young as five years old. The FDA approved Skyclarys last year. Regulators in the European Union gave Skyclarys approval in February to treat Friedreich’s ataxia in patients 16 years of age and older.

According to Biogen officials on the earnings call on Wednesday, more than 1,100 patients in the US and 300 in the EU are currently using Skyclarys.

Additionally, Biogen and Sage Therapeutics collaborated on the first postpartum depression medication, which received FDA approval in August. Though major depressive illness is a significantly larger market, the agency declined to approve the medication for it.

According to Biogen, sales of the tablet, known as Zurzuvae, totaled $12 million in the first quarter. According to FactSet, analysts had only anticipated $5 million in sales of the medication.

medications for multiple sclerosis and other therapies

Meanwhile, as some of its treatments face competition from less expensive generics, Biogen’s first-quarter sales from multiple sclerosis drugs dropped 4% to $1.08 billion.

The first quarter revenue for the company’s once-blockbuster medicine Tecfidera, which is up against competition from a generic rival, was $254.3 million, compared to $274.5 million in the same period last year.

Nevertheless, that exceeded the $227.7 million analysts had predicted, according to FactSet.

Sales of the oral drug Vumerity, which treats relapsing types of multiple sclerosis, totaled $127.5 million. This was less than the $137.9 million analysts had predicted, according to FactSet projections.

Sales of Biogen’s rare disease medications were $423.9 million, compared to $443.3 million during the same time last year.

Spinraza, a drug used to treat spinal muscular atrophy, a rare neuromuscular condition, brought in $341.3 million in sales. According to FactSet, that fell short of analysts’ $415.1 million revenue projection.

According to Biogen, the timing of Spinraza shipments and heightened competition had an impact on revenue comparisons for the first quarter outside of the United States.

Sales of the company’s biosimilar medications totaled $196.9 million, a little increase above the $192.4 million recorded in the same period last year. Analysts had projected those medications would bring in $192.5 million in sales.

Figures and research by CNBC


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