Market Watch reports Biogen Inc.’s BIIB, +4.90% recent price increases on multiple sclerosis drugs “could provide lift into ’18,” according to RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams, who maintained a sector perform rating for the company on Tuesday. Biogen shares rose 2.5% in Tuesday morning trade.
The price changes included an 8% increase on the MS therapies Tecfidera, Avonex and Plegridy and a 3% increase on Tysabri, and “while the moves are largely consistent with the price hikes seen in 2017, they could provide potential upside to our price growth estimates, which are conservatively modeled, if net pricing pull through is fully realized,” Abrahams said. RBC had previously expected price increases of 4% on those drugs. Even so, the changes were made to the drugs’ Wholesale Acquisition Cost, or the price a drugmaker offers middleman wholesalers. Because significant rebates and discounts are typically taken off the WAC price, it’s unclear to what degree the increases will translate to Biogen’s bottom line.
Last year, Biogen took one price increase for its multiple sclerosis drugs in January, Abrahams noted, and the company is likely to do the same this year, given the scrutiny on drug prices in this area. “We continue to believe BIIB will be viewed as a ‘safe’ large-cap biotech in 2018, with no major dramatic headwinds to existing franchise revenues,” Abrahams said, adding, “we also see fewer potential major upside catalysts.” Biogen shares have risen 3.4% over the last three months, compared with a 6.4% rise in the S&P 500 SPX, +0.83% and a 9.6% rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.42%
This year looks — at least on paper — like an unprecedentedly good setup for the pharmaceutical industry. But behind the scientific breakthroughs, a Food and Drug Administration churning out approvals and drug-price regulation never materializing, the industry appears shockingly fragile.
Take Johnson & Johnson JNJ, -0.03% , for example. This past spring, the company made an ambitious announcement: It planned to file for approval for 10 potential new billion-dollar drugs in the next couple of years.
Just months later, the company said it was discarding two of those drugs. The FDA had previously failed to approve one drug, sirukumab, while the other drug, talacotuzumab, was recommended against by an independent safety committee.
In 2015 Biogen announced it was cutting 11% of it’s workforce worldwide or 880 jobs, 400 of which reside in Massachusetts. The biotech giant also shuttered a number of its drug research programs.