Biogen arms itself with impressive durability stats on Spinraza as Novartis’ rival gene therapy takes the field
Now 3 years into the market, Biogen has been able to count on its blockbuster Spinraza franchise as one of the few bright spots at the beleaguered biotech. But with Novartis’ newly approved gene therapy Zolgensma throwing some shade even there — researchers have been bolstering their case on spinal muscular atrophy with new data on the durability of their therapy.
Investigators turned up at the annual Cure SMA conference Monday to tout some truly breakthrough results for this drug, with all of the children on therapy able to sit upright and 88% walking without help.
Columbia University professor Darryl De Vivo offered a shout out, saying Spinraza is “transforming the natural course of this disease” and demonstrating unprecedented results, everything promised when Biogen rolled out this drug in 2016.
The average age of these patients is now 3, which is remarkable by itself. Most Type 1 patients never reach their second birthday. And none of the Type 1 or 2 patients walk independently.
Biogen achieved $1.7 billion in revenue from Spinraza last year — but the future is much less certain. Novartis is expected to make major inroads with a once-off gene therapy, eating up franchise revenue that Biogen badly needs as it plots a comeback from their disastrous Phase III fail on aducanumab for Alzheimer’s. That setback knocked their stock price for a loop, and it’s never recovered.
Novartis rolled out its landmark gene therapy with a price of $2.12 million spread over 5 years, highlighting the long-term savings they could get compared to Spinraza, which starts at $750,000 for the first year and then slides to $375,000 a year — for life. That’s the best thing that could have happened to Novartis, which launched its marketing campaign against a more expensive rival.
Social image: Kristoffer Tripplaar, AP Images