With its pipeline full of biotech drugs, Biogen Idec aims to meet the unmet needs of patients around the world. The biotech giant is focused on developing treatments in the areas of immunology and neurology. Its product roster includes best-selling Avonex, a popular drug for the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS); Tysabri, a drug treatment for MS and Crohn's disease; Rituxan, a monoclonal antibody developed jointly with Genentech that treats non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis; and Fumaderm, a psoriasis drug marketed in Germany. Biogen Idec serves customers in more than 90 countries.
Biogen Idec has offices in Australia, Canada, Japan, the US, and several European countries. It has direct sales operations in about 30 countries and operates through distribution partners in another 60 countries.
Biogen Idec's top selling drug, Avonex, is sold in markets around the globe and accounts for more than half of annual revenues. The firm's Avonex pen, a single-use autoinjector version of the drug for once-weekly dosing, gained FDA approval for US marketing in early 2012.
Another top-selling global drug is Tysabri, bringing in about 20% of revenues. Tysabri was co-marketed with Elan until 2013 when Biogen purchased full rights. Despite the drug's troubled regulatory history -- the drug can only be prescribed under a strict risk management plan due to the possible side effect of a rare brain condition -- the company continues to pursue additional uses for the drug.
Rituxan sales conducted through the Genentech partnership account for another 20% of sales and are classified as "unconsolidated joint business" revenues. In addition to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis, Rituxan is approved to treat leukemia, follicular lymphoma, and vasculitis. Another drug, MS treatment Fampyra (also known as Ampyra), is sold in partnership with Acorda Therapeutics.
In addition to gaining revenue from the development and sales of its products (both directly and through partnerships), Biogen Idec receives royalties on some patents it has licensed to other companies. For instance, The Medicines Company pays royalties on sales of anticoagulant Angiomax.
Sales and Marketing
Avonex is marketed through Biogen Idec's direct sales force to specialist physicians and hospitals in North America, Europe, and select other countries around the globe. The company also handles global marketing efforts for Tysabri. Genentech handles sales and marketing duties for Rituxan, while marketing duties for Fampyra are split with Acorda (Biogen Idec sells the drug in Europe and Canada, while Acorda sells it in the US).
Biogen Idec's revenues and profits have steadily risen over the years as sales of its products have increased, including a 9% increase in revenues to some $5.5 billion in 2012. Profits rose 12% to some $1.4 billion that year as a result of boosted product sales, as well as due to gains from a royalty rights sale.
Biogen Idec's pipeline of drug candidates is focused on treatments for central nervous system ailments including Alzheimer's, MS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), hemophilia, neuropathic pain, and lupus. In addition to proprietary candidates, the company has collaborative development candidates with Genentech, Portola Pharmaceuticals (lupus and rheumatoid arthritis), Isis Pharmaceuticals (spinal muscular atrophy) and other drugmakers, and it continuously looks to expand its pipeline through acquisitions and partnerships.
Branching out in a new direction, Biogen Idec entered a joint venture agreement with Samsung BioLogics in late 2011 with the goal of developing and selling biosimilars (generic biologic drugs). The venture, named Samsung Bioepis, was formally established in early 2012, and the companies completed construction on a new R&D center in Korea later that year to serve as a headquarters for the venture.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Biogen Idec has expanded its operations through purchases of drug development firms, as well as by purchasing commercialized and development-stage drugs. In 2013 Biogen purchased full rights to Tysabri from partner Elan for some $3.3 billion. Following the transaction, the companies no longer split profits from the sales of the drug.
In 2012 Biogen Idec expanded its immunology pipeline when it acquired biotech R&D firm Stromedix for $75 million in upfront cash, with additional contingent value payments of up to $490 million. Stromedix focuses on developing antibody therapies for conditions including fibrosis and organ failure.
Investment firms PRIMECAP Management and FMR each own a 10% stake in Biogen Idec.
Activist investor Carl Icahn held a minority stake in the company for several years and kept a watchful eye over his investment in Biogen Idec until he sold his shares in the firm in 2011.