Look out, Biogen and Novartis. Roche's Ocrevus is coming for your MS sales—big time, analyst predicts

Roche
At $65,000 per year, Roche's Ocrevus is poised to undercut many of its MS competitors.

It’s no secret that Roche’s new multiple sclerosis med, Ocrevus, will pile pressure on the existing meds in that field. But how much pressure? One analyst has some forecasts—and they’re not pretty for Roche’s rivals.

After speaking with a series of specialists in the field, Leerink Partners analyst Geoffrey Porges sees Ocrevus taking a big bite out of Biogen’s MS sales—so big, in fact, that he’s also lowering his earnings predictions for the Big Biotech. He expects Biogen’s MS revenue to slide to $7.8 billion in 2020 from $8.7 billion this year—an annual decline of about 3% to 4%—and he’s taking his EPS estimates down by 3% accordingly. 

Biogen could see a 40% to 50% erosion in sales of Tysabri, an infused therapy like Ocrevus. But it isn’t the only drug, at Biogen or elsewhere, that's set to suffer. Porges thinks both the Cambridge drugmaker’s oral Tecfidera and Novartis’ fellow pill Gilenya could see 30% to 40% of sales washed away.

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The specialist community “seems certain” that Ocrevus, the first drug specifically approved to treat progressive MS in addition to the relapsing type, will “assume a dominant position in the MS market” over the next three to five years.

The reasons? Ocrevus' high efficacy in both forms of the disease, its “reasonable” safety profile and its 6-month dosing schedule, which tops many of its peers in the convenience department. Its price—$65,000 per year, a 20% discount, on average, to its rivals—doesn’t hurt, either, Porges said.

Unsurprisingly, Porges sees a market share coup ahead in primary progressive MS, where Ocrevus is the only approved product; he expects “significant penetration” of about 60% within three to four years. But its gains in relapsing-remitting MS—where Tysabri, Tecfidera and Gilenya compete—should be significant, too, with the med capturing both switches and new patient starts.

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“Ocrevus … will likely see quick adoption in RRMS patients experiencing compliance, tolerability or efficacy issues on existing therapies,” with specialists guessing that about 20% of that patient pool will “roll over to Ocrevus” in the next year.

Unfortunately for Roche’s fellow MS drugmakers, stolen sales will be just one problem to come along with Ocrevus, some industry watchers predict. They’re also expecting to see the med increase payer pressure on the space, which is already subject to plenty of formulary management.