Biogen to spin off haemophilia business

Biogen is to spin off its haemophilia business, arguing that splitting the company in two will accelerate progress in the specialist fields of neurology and blood disorders.

The growth of Biogen’s big-selling multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) has slowed, amid concerns about a possible link with the brain infection, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.

Biogen began a cost-cutting programme in October, refocusing on core areas such as neurology and autoimmune diseases.

But Biogen said its haemophilia business is growing, with two already-marketed products, Eloctate (antihaemophilic factor (recombinant)) and Alprolix (coagulation factor IX (recombinant)) generating combined revenues of $640 million in the year ended 31 March.

The spin-off is planned to complete by the end of this year, or early next year, should Biogen’s board of directors and US tax authorities allow it.

The as yet unnamed new company will be based near Boston, Massachusetts, and its CEO will be John Cox, Biogen’s current executive vice president of pharmaceutical operations and technology.

It will focus on discovery and development of haemophilia products, as well as Eloctate and Alprolix for haemophilia A and B, respectively.

Biogen develops and markets these drugs under an existing agreement with Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (SOBI) and is expected to retain rights for North America and the rest of the world outside Europe, North Africa, Russia and certain countries in the Middle East.

For some time Biogen will provide transition services and will remain the manufacturer of Alprolix for the next three-to-five years.

The deal is expected to be accomplished through a distribution of shares of the new publicly-traded company to Biogen shareholders, in a transaction intended to be tax-free in the US.

Meanwhile, Biogen will focus on developing drugs for neurodegenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and neuropathic pain, and keep Tecfidera.

Biogen CEO George Scangos, said: “Our expanding haemophilia business continues to perform very well. Eloctate and Alprolix provide meaningful benefits for people living with haemophilia and continue to gain market share. We believe that the best way to realise the full potential of this growing and vital business is to enable it to operate independently with a management team dedicated to providing therapies to people living with haemophilia.”

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