Biogen prices new, long-acting hemophilia med with eye on patient switching

Courtesy of Biogen Idec

Back in April, Biogen Idec stirred up the hemophilia B market by pricing its long-acting newcomer Alprolix on par with older meds. Now, it's doing the same with April approval Eloctate, another long-lasting drug--but in a hemophilia A market where the stakes are much, much higher.

Last week, Biogen announced it would price Eloctate at $1.98 per unit, a cost ISI Group analyst Mark Schoenebaum wrote in a note to investors was "in line" with Baxter's ($BAX) Advate at about $550,000 to $600,000 per year. And taking into account Eloctate's less frequent infusion schedule--a dose is needed once every three to 5 days, as opposed to the standard twice- or thrice-weekly regimen--similar costs may lure patients toward Biogen's med.

Biogen took a similar strategy with Alprolix, the first of its next-gen hemophilia offerings, pricing it comparably to Pfizer's ($PFE) Benefix, which leads the hemophilia B market. "In essence, Biogen appears to be more focused on getting the patient switches," Schoenebaum wrote in an April note.

But this time, the company is making the move in a much bigger market. While the hemophilia B market sits at about $1 billion, the hemophilia A market checks in at $6 billion. A recent analyst survey said Eloctate would likely grow to command up to 37% of the adult market over the next two years, despite forthcoming competition in the long-acting space from Novo Nordisk ($NVO) and others.

That could be a problem for Baxter, whose own novel hemophilia A product could still be a year or two off. Much of the success of Baxter's hemophilia franchise last year came on the back of Advate, with Piper Jaffray analyst Matt Miksic earlier this year estimating the drug's 2013 sales at about $1.8 billion. And in turn, the Illinois company's hemophilia sales powered 58% of its overall biopharma haul--revenue that will be all the more crucial as the company preps to spin that unit off.