Biogen Inc. said it ended 1994 with a net loss of $10.5 million, or 32cents per share, based on the $25 million pre-tax earnings charge ittook in discontinuing development of Hirulog following failed PhaseIII trials of the anti-coagulant in October.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company said revenues for the yeartotaled $149.8 million, which were slightly higher than the $149.3million reported in 1993. Biogen ended 1993 with a net income of$32.4 million, or 93 cents per share.

Analysts said Biogen's fourth quarter and year-end figures containedno surprises. The company listed net income of $4 million, or 11cents per share for the last quarter of 1994, compared to $4.2 million(11 cents per share) in the fourth quarter of 1993. Biogen also said itended 1994 with $270 million in cash.

Biogen countered the failure of Hirulog last fall with positive PhaseIII trials of its beta interferon for multiple sclerosis. It expects to filefor European and FDA approval by mid-1995.

One surprise that has occurred, however, was an announcement byGermany-based Schering AG earlier this month that it received aU.S. patent in December for manufacture of beta interferon.

Speculation by investors that a patent dispute could affect Biogen'sbeta interferon sent the stock (NASDAQ:BGEN) down 16 percentJan. 11 to $35.40. Biogen closed Thursday up 62 cents to $35.

"The stock has acted as if Biogen won't be able to market betainterferon," said Meg Malloy, an analyst with Needham & Co., inNew York. "Patent struggles can't impact marketing. The worst casescenario is that Biogen has to pay some royalties. But it's too early totell."

In announcing its fourth quarter financial results, Biogen said it wasconfident recent patent claims "will not prevent ourcommercialization of beta interferon."

Schering is the parent of Berlex Laboratories Inc., which is themarketing partner for Chiron Corp.'s beta interferon product,Betaseron, for multiple sclerosis. Betaseron was approved by theFDA in 1993 and is under review in Europe, where Biogen has apatent that could affect Betaseron sales.

Some analysts have speculated a patent dispute between Biogen andSchering may be averted by the two companies cross-licensing theirpatents. n

-- Charles Craig

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.