Battle lines drawn in the MS oral drugs market

Discuss Tecfidera (BG-12, dimethyl fumarate) as an oral treatment for multiple sclerosis.

Battle lines drawn in the MS oral drugs market

Postby MSUK » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:37 am


For years, patients with multiple sclerosis had to endure injection therapies to stave off the horrible disease. Oral medications have finally emerged from development recently, and it turns out the competition is heating up fast: Results arrived on two major clinical trials for Biogen Idec's own oral MS drug, BG-12, and the data looks rock-solid. With the MS market suddenly red-hot, will Biogen's latest success propel the company to higher heights?

Mopping up the competition

Biogen's two phase 3 trials for BG-12 came out in Wednesday's New England Journal of Medicine with promising results. The two trials demonstrated strong efficacy for BG-12, with chronic relapses falling 44% to 51% at the two-year mark. Given that drugs currently used to combat MS relapses typically demonstrate only a 30% improvement, BG-12's success looks sharp.

While the FDA won't rule on BG-12's approval until later in the year, Biogen's drug looks to become just the third oral medication for MS on the market. Sanofi's Aubagio received the green light from the FDA earlier this month, following Novartis's Gilenya, the first oral MS treatment launched in 2010.

Unfortunately for Biogen's two competitors, their drugs come with serious questions over efficacy and side effects. Gilenya has caused numerous headaches for Novartis, with the FDA issuing a restrictive label for the drug after a patient died soon after beginning treatment. While the connections between the death and the drug were unclear, the fact that Gilenya also can slow patient heart rates -- and that patients are recommended to stay in a hospital for six hours after the first dose -- aren't helping Novartis' PR department.

Sanofi might not face the same sort of lethal problems with Aubagio, but regardless of Aubagio's warm reception around projected future sales, early signs show that BG-12 is simply a better product. In one trial, Aubagio failed to beat the Rebif injection treatment offered by Pfizer with Aubagio sporting only a 30% relapse reduction. BG-12 leads with a considerable advantage in a head-to-head matchup of efficacy.... Read More - ... ageid/1679
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