Biogen expects MS sales hit from Gilenya

We've heard a lot about Novartis' new multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya, the first oral treatment for the disease. It has hit the ground running, growing sales and grabbing market share just as the Swiss drugmaker had hoped. But what about its effect on competing drugs? Biogen Idec CEO George Scangos told Reuters that he's expecting the drug to hit his MS franchise.

Biogen makes Avonex and Tysabri, which brought in $1.86 billion and $659 million in first-nine-months sales last year, respectively. "Gilenya will take some market share for sure," Scangos said. "[I]t is way too soon to tell how much."

Regardless, Biogen is hopeful about continued growth in Tysabri sales, despite continued reports of the potentially fatal brain infection progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy in patients using the drug. The company is working with FDA on guidelines for screening patients for the virus that causes PML to help address those worries. "We believe there is substantial upside to Tysabri," Scangos told Reuters. The upside in 2010 was 8,200 new Tysabri patients, including 1,700 in the fourth quarter.

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