Biogen Misses Q4 Revenue Estimates on Aduhelm Costs, Lower MS Drug Sales

Biogen_iStock, JHVEPhoto

Pictured: Biogen signage at its headquarters in Massachusetts/iStock, JHVEPhoto

Biogen’s fourth-quarter financial results were weighed down by declining multiple sclerosis sales and one-time costs related to dropping its Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm, the biotech reported on Tuesday.

The Massachusetts-based biotech posted over $2.3 billion in total revenue for the fourth quarter, a 5% drop from the same period in 2022. Biogen’s revenue from multiple sclerosis products was $1.1 billion in the most recent quarter, down 8% from last year.

Hit with generic competition, Tecfidera’s revenue dropped 17.8% to $244.3 million in the fourth quarter. Another multiple sclerosis medication, Vumerity, generated $156.4 million in sales in the quarter—below analysts’ estimates of $174.4 million.

Biogen paid $60 million in one-time, close out costs in the fourth quarter related to its controversial and now-defunct Alzheimer’s treatment Aduhelm. Late last month, the company announced it was discontinuing sales and development of Aduhelm, as it focused on Leqembi instead.

On a Tuesday press call, Biogen CEO Chris Viehbacher described the decision to axe Aduhelm as “difficult” but in the best interests of the company over the short term.

“The reality is that as we look out into the market over the next few years, by the time Aduhelm would get its confirmatory data we just felt that Leqembi would be so far ahead and there are going to be other agents,” Viehbacher said. “That wasn’t the best place for us to put our capital. That was an expensive study that was going to cost at least half a billion dollars, and we just felt that it would be better to reinvest a lot of that money and redeploy that money within the company.”

Fourth-quarter revenue for the Alzheimer’s treatment Leqembi came in at around $7 million, while the revenue for full-year 2023 generated $10 million. The revenue in the quarter for Friedreich’s ataxia medication Skyclarys was $56 million.

Looking at 2024 guidance, Biogen CFO Mike McDonald said on Tuesday morning that revenue would decline by the low to mid-single-digit percentage in 2024. Biogen’s press release noted that its core revenue from its products would be relatively flat this year as it expects a further decline in multiple sclerosis to be offset by revenue from its new product launches.

New product launches, such as Skyclarys and Leqembi, are part of Biogen’s plan to bring revenue back up, according to Viehbacher. Skyclarys on Monday secured approval from the European Commission to treat the neurodegenerative disorder Friedreich’s ataxia (FA). In March 2023, Skyclarys got U.S. approval becoming the first-ever FDA-approved therapy for FA.

“We’ve had several years of declining revenue and profit, which is not unusual when dealing with patent [expirations]. The question is, how do you return to growth? And so, we had identified five key primary objectives to do that,” Viehbacher said on the press call. “The first one was what we needed to reposition the company away from our legacy multiple sclerosis franchise towards new products. And, last year, we had four product approvals, the second highest in the industry.”

Viehbacher said that as the “iceberg” from its multiple sclerosis line continues to “melt” the new products will take on a more significant share of the revenue and is confident that the company can see revenue growth over the next 10 years.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

Back to news