By Lisa Seachrist
WASHINGTON — With the multiple sclerosis drug Avonex selling well in both North America and Europe, Biogen Inc. posted net income of $31.5 million, or $0.41 per share, for the second quarter of 1998, a 50 percent increase over the second quarter of 1997, when profits totaled $20 million, or $0.26 per share.
Biogen's revenues for the second quarter of this year totaled $135.8 million, compared with $97.65 million for the same period last year.
The bulk of the firm's revenues are drawn from Avonex sales, which hit $87 million in the second quarter of 1998. For the same quarter in 1997, Avonex sales were $56.4 million.
While Avonex (interferon beta-1a) is Biogen's only approved product to date, the company has several products in the pipeline. LFA3TIP, a human fusion protein for the treatment of psoriasis, is in Phase IIa and Phase IIb studies to evaluate safety and efficacy.
The company has CD40 Ligand, a humanized antibody for the treatment of the autoimmune disorder idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura in Phase I safety studies.
Biogen also is testing CVT124 as a therapy for congestive heart failure. The compound, which seems to provide diuretic properties while sparing kidney function, is in Phase IIb studies.
In addition, the firm continues a clinical trial program for Avonex to expand the drug's indication to different stages of multiple sclerosis and to other diseases.
Biogen receives royalty revenues on sales of alpha interferon and hepatitis B vaccines it developed in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies. It also outlicensed the anticoagulant Hirulog to The Medicines Co.
In addition, the company just completed an outlicensing agreement with Merck & Co. Inc., of Whitehouse Station, N.J., for a VLA4 inhibitor to treat asthma. VLA4 is a receptor found on most white blood cells.
For the first six months of 1998, Biogen reported net income of $59.2 million, or $0.77 per share, on revenues of $257.2 million, compared with $37 million, or $0.48 per share, on revenues of $197.4 million a year ago.
Avonex sales hit $163 million for the first six months of this year, compared with $109 million for the same period in 1997.
Biogen's stock (NASDAQ:BGEN) closed Friday at $54 up $2.437. *