Biogen to put layoffs savings toward DTC, patient support for lagging Tecfidera

Tecfidera's slowing growth trajectory has gotten maker Biogen ($BIIB) into a pickle lately, propelling it to announce more than 800 layoffs Wednesday. But the drugmaker is hoping it can put the money it saves through those cuts into marketing activities that'll help the multiple sclerosis med pick up the pace in the U.S.

As the Massachusetts company laid out with its third-quarter earnings release, the workforce reduction will save it about $250 million per year. And it plans to reinvest that money in, among other things, new DTC marketing programs for Tecfidera, CEO George Scangos told investors on a conference call, as quoted by TheStreet.

Biogen has already worked to beef up commercial activities behind the quick-launcher since this April, when it admitted that the med's growth wasn't quite where the company thought it would be. The Cambridge-based drugmaker has increased sales calls for Tecfidera and amped up its U.S. DTC marketing, Scangos noted, an effort that's included rolling out a brand new TV campaign this October.

Biogen CFO Paul Clancy

And the company doesn't intend to waste any time continuing the DTC push. It expects to invest in Tecfidera in Q4 of this year, CFO Paul Clancy told investors, and Biogen's current thinking is that DTC outreach will extend "throughout the majority of 2016."

The way Biogen sees it, that advertising will help it win over "a whole set of patients through patient awareness," Clancy said--which is currently low, according to the data the drugmaker's got. It also figures that "when a patient comes to her doctor, particularly in the United States, with a preferred therapy, that is often the therapy that the patient goes on," he said, meaning there's a "big opportunity" on the awareness side.

DTC isn't the only part of Biogen's "action plans," either, Clancy said. They also "include enhanced patient support around tolerability, and working through that."

And if all goes according to plan, Biogen's flat U.S. Tecfidera revenues will more closely resemble those that topped analyst estimate after analyst estimate in the earlier days of its launch. "We still absolutely aspire towards much better performance in the United States," Clancy said.

- see the call transcript

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