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in their “infancy” when Scangos arrived in 2010 and, he says, “had no strategic ties to anything else we were doing.”
Scangos originally aimed to divest the hemophilia assets, but kept them because they were less risky to develop than some other treatments and cheaper and quicker to test and get to market, and because there was a chance they could make an impact on the disease. “So now we have it, and it still has no strategic alignment with the rest of what we’re doing,” he said.
Yet because Biogen has the two drugs it’s committed to building more of a franchise around them, despite how competitive the landscape is for other treatments. It’s invested in a potential gene therapy for the disease, and is developing what it hopes would be longer-lasting treatments than the products it already has on the market.
“If all we were going to do was market those two compounds and let them run their life cycle then we should probably just sell them, right? If we’re gonna be in it we need to be making investments for the future and the next generation of products, and care about this.”
—Expect Biogen to buy into more biosimilars. Biogen formed a joint venture with Samsung in 2012 to develop biosimilars, generic biologic drugs. Currently it owns just about 10 percent of that venture, with Samsung owning the rest. Expect that to change, however. Biogen has the option to buy up to a 50/50 split of the joint venture, named Bioepis, at any time. Bioepis just won approval its first product, a biosimilar version of the rheumatoid arthritis drug etanercept called Benepali, last month in Europe. Another one or two could come later this year, according to Scangos. “We’ll certainly do that, unless some disaster happens,” he said. “We don’t have to do that tomorrow. We have some time to exercise [the option]. But it’s going so well, it looks like there is a real business there.”
—Mum on Forward Pharma. Biogen’s oral multiple sclerosis drug dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera) is facing a patent challenge from Forward Pharma (NASDAQ: FWP), a Danish biotech that went public in 2014. Scangos declined to talk much about the ongoing litigation, noting that while Forward openly talks publicly about the fight, “that’s the whole investment thesis in the company.”