Amid Plunging Stocks and Failed Trials, Biogen’s CIO Quietly Leaves Company

Published: Jun 10, 2016

Amid Plunging Stocks and Failed Trials, Biogen’s CIO Quietly Leaves Company June 10, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

With very little fanfare, Biogen ’s chief information officer, Matt Griffiths, left the company after only a year-and-a-half. No reason was given.

In May 2015, Biogen announced that Griffiths was promoted to senior vice president and chief information officer (CIO). He would report to Adriana Karaboutis, Biogen’s executive vice president of Technology and Business Solutions. In December 2014, he had joined the company as vice president of Pharmaceutical Operations and Corporate Information Technology. Prior to Biogen, Griffiths worked at Dell.

Griffiths role was to develop the company’s overall strategy for enterprise information technology (IT). In addition, Biogen was working to develop real-world data analytics to provide more information that could be used for drug development, as well as patient care through mobile, wearable technology. Karaboutis had chosen him to utilize analytics to help the company ascertain why specific subgroups of people developed multiple sclerosis (MS).

On June 8, Biogen announced that its Phase II clinical trial of opicinumab (anti-LINGO-1) to treat the nerve damage caused by MS, had failed. The drug failed to meet the primary endpoint, a complex measure that evaluated improvement of physical function, cognitive function, and disability. Nor did it meet a secondary efficacy endpoint, evaluating the slowing of the progression of disability.

Biogen dropped at the news. Shares traded for $289.84 on Monday, June 6, and dropped to $252.58 on June 7. Shares are currently trading at $248.79. This represents a loss of market value of over $8 billion.

However, Profit Confidential wrote, “That being said, Biogen is successful more often than it is unsuccessful. Biogen stock could see a strong revival, bouncing back in a bullish phase quickly. Long-term owners who understand the intricacies of biotechs may see BIIB stock’s current price as a signal to buy.”

Several things come to mind. The company’s three other MS drugs, Avonex, Tysabri and Tecfidera, are still bringing in a lot of revenue, about $1 billion each every year, although competition is starting to gather strength. The company is expected to have results from a Phase III trial of aducanumab for Alzheimer’s disease in the near future, and if it’s even modestly successful will drive the stock up.

And another factor that is harder to predict, is related to anti-LINGO-1. Despite not meeting its endpoints for MS repair, the company said “evidence of a clinical effect with a complex, unexpected dose-response was observed.” Details were not disclosed. However, it will be interesting to see if the unexpected information was related to previous findings in some studies that the drug seemed effective against acute optic neuritis (AON).

AON generally affects one eye, is marked by inflammation, damage to the nerve fibers and loss of myelin within the optic nerve. Biogen chose AON as an initial indication for the drug because about 50 percent of the people with AON later develop MS.

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