Biogen Shortens Its Name, Expands Focus On Alzheimer’s Treatments

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by Isaura Santos |

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biogen nlThanks to its successful drugs to address treatments for multiple sclerosis, Biogen Idec Inc has seen its position in the biopharmaceutical market increase, having quadrupled sales in just 3 years to over $100 billion dollars. The company now has new ambitions in sight and has dropped “Idec” from its name and adopted a new logo to indicate its new focus, which will include drug development efforts for Alzheimer’s disease.

The Massachusetts-based company recently announced better-than-expected outcomes of its clinical trial concerning aducanumab, an Alzheimer’s drug. The results are spurring on a new initiative for the company to address the significant unmet medical needs in the Alzheimer’s patient community.

George Scangos, Chief Executive, stated that Biogen will remain focused on developing drugs to address some of the most difficult diseases to treat.

“Five years down the road, with some luck, we’ll have an Alzheimer’s drug that’s getting approved. I hope we can transform the treatment of MS. By that time, we will have made substantial progress on ALS and other nerve degenerative diseases, spinal muscular atrophy in kids. All that stuff is on our plate,” said Scangos in the press release. “I am sure of two things. Not all of it is going to work, and some of it will.”

Investors became excited by the news concerning aducanumab, which sent Biogen shares up 9.7 percent to $480.18.

The trial revealed that the treatment managed to significantly slow cognitive impairment in individuals suffering from mild Alzheimer’s symptoms. This is very good news in a field where many others have failed.

Some patients, in particular those with a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s, developed localized brain swelling. This symptom has shown to be more common among patients with the Alzheimer’s gene and among those receiving the highest doses of aducanumab. The swelling caused that about a third of the participants of that category to stop the treatment. The firm noted that the swelling was usually “asymptomatic or with mild, transient symptoms.”

Michael King, analyst from the JMP Securities, stated that “If they can replicate the Alzheimer’s data in Phase III, they could conceivably have the biggest drug on the planet.” It is expected that 75 million people will have the disease by 2030.

Scangos stated that the company is focused on developing drugs to address other neuro-degenerative diseases and that the future bodes well for the firm’s goals.