Biogen says it needs to rethink delivery for MS injectables

While injectable treatments account for about 85% of the multiple sclerosis market, that number will shrink, and pharmas are going to have rethink their drug delivery methods to stay on top, Biogen Idec ($BIIB) predicts.

As in-Pharma Technologist reported, the company is looking to maintain its share of the MS business by introducing new, more convenient platforms for its treatments, hoping to keep profits rolling in as patients turn away from traditional injectables.

In February, Biogen got the FDA's OK on a once-weekly, autoinjector-administrated formulation of Avonex, the company's multi-billion-dollar MS treatment. Tony Kingsley, a Biogen executive vice president, told investors that the injection-pen version of Avonex has already brought positive results, both in terms of sales and patient compliance, in-Pharma Technologist reports. Biogen is developing a twice-monthly Avonex formulation, too, but more promising is the pipeline treatment BG-12, an oral MS drug the company has tabbed as a blockbuster in waiting.

Biogen is hardly the only big drugmaker looking to forestall patent cliffs and boost profits by investing in new drug delivery. In the MS world, Merck ($MRK) launched an autoinjector formulation of Rebif earlier this month, and Sanofi ($SNY) is working to get its oral treatment, teriflunomide, on the market to cash in on the trend of patients ditching traditional injectables. In other markets, drugmakers are turning to needle-free techs to get a leg up, including Allergan ($AGN), which is looking to market a transdermal-delivery formulation of Botox for over-active-bladder sufferers.

- read the in-Pharma Technologist report