The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled against Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass., and in favor of Mylan NV, of Hertfordshire, U.K., in a patent dispute regarding Biogen’s blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug, Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate).
Biogen Inc. handily beat earnings expectations in its first-quarter 2020 earnings report to investors but leavened the good news by adding that it now plans to submit its BLA for beta-amyloid-targeting aducanumab for treating Alzheimer’s disease in the third quarter of 2020.
After plunging dramatically at the beginning of the month, biopharmaceutical equities appear to be recovering some of the valuation they originally lost when the financial markets cratered. As the curtain closed on a very turbulent month that most investors will want to forget, the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index finished up 0.75%, but down about 2% for the year.
According to an analysis conducted by BioWorld of the fourth-quarter and year-end 2019 financial reports filed by the top 100 public biopharmaceutical companies ranked by market cap, and excluding big pharma companies, the amount that was invested in research and development (R&D) during the year increased 35% compared to the same period in 2018.
The financial markets were delivered a one-two punch March 9 – a plunge in oil prices along with fears that the coronavirus is continuing to spread unabated. As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average cratered 1,500 points in early trading after a brief halt with market circuit breakers kicking in. Biopharma equities did not escape the carnage, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index trading down about 4% by market close, with the Dow closing down 7.8%.
Concerns about the escalating global spread of COVID-19 panicked the markets big time at the close of the month. With investors rushing to the sidelines, it only took five days for the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop more than 10% from its all-time high, getting close to the 30,000 mark.
Launching a broad new front in its long-running battle against dementia and other neurological diseases, Biogen Inc. has moved to license multiple Sangamo Therapeutics Inc. programs for $350 million up front plus up to $2.37 billion in development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments.
Investors continue to keep a close eye on the progress of companies involved in developing medicines targeting the central nervous system and, in the main, their reaction has been generally positive. The BioWorld Neurological Diseases index, a price-weighted index of public biopharmaceutical companies that are focused on developing therapies to treat neurological diseases, closed the year up over 16% and after, a dip in January, is now tracking up more than 12% by market close on Friday Feb. 21, well ahead of the general markets for the same period.
Biotech investors had every reason to feel bullish heading into the new decade. The sector had turned around in 2019 and was riding a wave of a very strong fourth-quarter performance, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical Index closing up 14% for the year after being underwater from April through to September. Unfortunately, those great expectations were quickly erased during J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference week (Jan. 10 – Jan. 17), which turned out to be a very low-key affair absent of any blockbuster M&A revelations. As a result, confidence has now given way to concerns about the prospects for biopharmaceutical companies going forward, particularly as unfavorable political rhetoric on drug pricing will certainly be dialed up during this election year.