To buy or not to buy? Samsung unit denies report about Biogen talks

During a mostly quiet news week for biopharma, Biogen and Samsung made waves Wednesday when the Korea Economic Daily reported that the Korean conglomerate was in talks to buy the Massachusetts biotech. Now, a unit of Samsung is adding another wrinkle to the story by denying the talks.

In a new disclosure, Samsung's global contract development and manufacturing organization Samsung Biologics responded to the news by saying the "information is not true." The move came after the Korea Economic Daily, citing "investment banking sources," reported Biogen approached Samsung about a sale and that the companies were negotiating a potential $42 billion deal.

A Biogen spokesperson told Fierce Pharma the company doesn't comment on media rumors or speculation.

The Korea Economic Daily report sent Biogen's shares up nearly 10% on Wednesday afternoon to about $258. Before the market opened Thursday morning, the company's shares had slipped nearly 7% to about $240. 

RELATED: Biogen's roller coaster 2021 takes another surprising turn with report of $42B Samsung buyout interest

For the Massachusetts biotech, the report—and denial by Samsung Biologics—caps off a whirlwind 2021 that has featured notable highs and lows. As the company approached a pivotal FDA decision on Alzheimer's disease drug Aduhelm in June, its moneymaking franchises Tecfidera and Spinraza were suffering from competitive pressures, leading to steep revenue declines.

The Aduhelm approval brought hope that the company's future was bright, and, shortly after the FDA nod, investors sent the company's share price to nearly $415.

Then, Biogen slapped a $56,000 annual price tag on the medicine—far higher than many market watchers had expected—which triggered a wave of criticism. Meanwhile, many Alzheimer's experts and market watchers continue to question the data supporting the approval, and side effect reports have added another hurdle. In the third quarter, the drug generated just $300,000 in sales.

RELATED: Biogen, with sales falling sharply, posts 'obviously disappointing' Aduhelm sales of $300K, CEO Vounatsos says

Amid those troubles, Biogen's share price has slipped to pre-Aduhelm approval levels. 

Looking forward, Biogen is hoping a key coverage decision from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will open up a market for the medicine in the U.S. And the company has another late-stage Alzheimer's candidate in BAN-2401. Phase 3 data on that drug are due in the fall of 2022.