UCB could have a tiger by the tail in Asia, with regional rights to market top-selling Biogen Idec ($BIIB) products. The deal includes Biogen's brand-new multiple sclerosis treatment Tecfidera, which is roaring toward blockbuster sales in the U.S. less than a year after launch.
Biogen inked a wide-ranging commercialization partnership with the Belgian drugmaker, which will bring Biogen's portfolio of MS drugs into South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. UCB will also have the right to co-develop and commercialize Biogen's products in China.
The agreement includes such Biogen MS mainstays as Tysabri and Avonex, and extends to MS candidates in Biogen's pipeline. It also includes two drugs the company is developing to treat the blood disorder hemophilia.
"By leveraging UCB's extensive resources, expertise and infrastructure in Asia, we believe we can grow our footprint in critical Asian markets, get our therapies to patients more quickly and create a foundation for further commercial success in this region," said Carlos Dourado, Biogen's senior vice president for emerging markets, in a press release.
The UCB deal will likely fuel the rapid rise of Tecfidera, which has been unstoppable since hitting the U.S. market last April. Biogen scored insurance coverage for the drug very soon after its launch, according to a Leerink Swann survey of pharmacy directors for managed care companies. That likely helped Biogen quickly grab market share from its two chief rivals, Sanofi's ($SNY) Aubagio and Novartis' ($NVS) Gilenya.
In the fourth quarter of 2013, Tecfidera contributed $398 million of Biogen's $1.97 billion in quarterly revenue, outpacing analyst estimates of $346.5 million. Biogen expects total revenues to grow at least 22% this year. And the company's investors have been applauding the strong performance of its MS portfolio: its stock price has more than doubled in the last 12 months to over $313 a share.
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