19. Biogen

biogen
Biogen has a lot riding on its FDA review of Alzheimer's disease drug candidate aducanumab.

Biogen 
2020 revenue: $13.44 billion 
2019 revenue: $14.38 billion 
Headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts 

These days the story of Biogen's future centers on aducanumab, its high-profile Alzheimer’s disease candidate that failed a trial in 2019 but was later resurrected thanks to a deeper look at the trial data. 

Biogen has submitted the drug to the FDA and within a few months, we’ll know more about aducanumab's fate. It could be a massive win for Biogen or another setback for a drugmaker already hurting from competitive pressures. The deadline for a decision is in June.

Meanwhile, on the commercial front, Biogen struggled in 2020. The company posted $13.44 billion in global sales, a 6.5% decline from $14.38 billion in 2019.  

Sales for spinal muscular atrophy drug Spinraza fell slightly to $2.05 billion from $2.1 billion amid competition from Roche and Novartis medicines.

Elsewhere in its portfolio, Biogen’s biggest drug by revenue, multiple sclerosis blockbuster Tecfidera, faced copycats that were starting to erode its sales. The drug posted $3.84 billion in 2020 revenue, down from $4.43 billion the prior year. 

RELATED: Biogen's sales slide on Spinraza, Tecfidera as pivotal Alzheimer's decision nears 

Those competitive pressures aren’t going away. Roche and PTC Therapeutics in August launched Evrysdi, an oral SMA drug that features “more attractive” dosing during the pandemic, as one Biogen exec acknowledged during a recent conference call. As for Tecfidera, the company expects a “sharp decline” in sales this year. 

But Biogen is counting on its pipeline to deliver in the long run. Aside from aducanumab, the company also is developing drug candidates in biosimilars, choroideremia and stroke. The company inked several development deals last year aimed at bolstering its pipeline, including a multibillion-dollar deal with Sage. It signed other deals with Denali and Sangamo.

The company expects four phase 3 readouts and four phase 2 readouts this year. But as it released fourth-quarter results, the company also dropped a Parkinson's drug candidate from its pipeline. 

RELATED: Tennessee's 'patient zero,' a Biogen employee, comes forward to discuss 'hysteria' and 'human kindness at its very best' 

Biogen is also active on the biosimilar front: Its copycat biologic drugs generated nearly $800 million last year, and the company might be in a position to launch a Lucentis biosim later this year.

No retelling of Biogen’s year would be complete without a mention of the company’s February 2020 management meeting. The company hosted executives from around the world in Boston in late February 2020, and many went on to become sick with the novel coronavirus.  

After the meeting, Biogen donated $10 million to the pandemic response effort. Its employees also donated blood early on researchers could learn more about the disease. 

19. Biogen