It is problematic that Biogen is not more forthcoming in reporting information on PML cases and deaths. In an attempt to see the issues, I looked at business issues for Biogen. Here's some information.
For the quarter ending 9/30/2009, Biogen's profits increased about 36% thanks largely to the sale of Tysabri. Biogen made about $275 million in profits for that quarter and is expected to have profits of about $1 billion for the year. The profitability of Biogen very much depends upon Tysabri so, obviously, Biogen is anxious to avoid raising alarms about PML. At this time, about 46,000 persons use Tysabri for MS and Biogen would like to expand that number.
One analyst said that Biogen understates the incidence of PML. That analyst said that after 24 infusions, the rate of PML rises to 1/800.
Another issue is that the CEO at Biogen continues to cause a fair amount of flap. Last year, some shareholders at Biogen complained about his extravagant expenditures. For example, he uses corporate jets to fly home and each trip costs about $100,000 while a commericial airline ticket would cost about $1,000.
Shareholders are also complain that the CEO is unloading his Biogen stock and has pocketed about $60 million. Some shareholders believe the CEO no longer is interested in the longer term profitability of the company.
This sale of stock by the CEO is very interesting. It may mean that the CEO expects the bottom to drop out of the stock price for Biogen stock. This would happen if Tysabri turned out to be more dangerous than expected.
All in all, it looks like those with MS do need to be wary of Biogen, Tysabri and PML.
A related fact is the high cost of preventing relapses using drugs. One study showed it costs about $80,000 to $90,000 to prevent one MS relapses with drugs.
There is so much money at stake here. The pharmaceutical companies have powerful economic incentives to understate problems with the MS drugs.
Last edited by Rebecca
on Wed Dec 09, 2009 8:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.