Biogen Idec Exec Insights: R&D Spend, TYSABRI

On Tuesday, Biogen Idec Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB) reported its first quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Here’s what the C-suite revealed.

R&D Spend

Robyn Karnauskas – Deutsche Bank: First, maybe Paul, if you could comment a little bit on R&D spend. You’re doing a lot of Phase III trials right now and next year those might fall behind. How do you see R&D spend going forward next year? Do you think it will fall off a little bit or will be offset by the movement of these safety products forward?

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Paul J. Clancy – EVP and CFO: No, we’ve talked about this in the past, well we’re just a little bit reticent to give exact targets for next year. Certainly, the upward pressure on spending this year is the result of very fortunate late-stage program that we – set of programs that we have. Our company supports six or seven depending on how you count at late-stage programs that the bulk of our spending, as I have characterized it in the past, you know, if you look at this on a project basis, the late-stage programs consume over half of the R&D expenses. When we spin a post pivotal trial, then certainly, the spending doesn’t go away. We are seeing that this year with BG-12, while patients have moved out of the trial. We continue to have spending on BG-12 for the extension study. We continue to have spending for product as you move into safety, but it does decline on a project-by-project basis. So, I think that we don’t have the upward pressure on R&D spending as we go into 2013 that we’re seeing now, as I also noted, for Q1 we had some spending forward decks on manufacturing campaigns as well as the blood factors. Those are at risk. Those are things that we nevertheless feel important to do. So if these product do get to the marketplace, that we’re getting to the marketplace with the most – the adequate product supply, obviously, in good of product presentations, which are complex kind of for both of those programs. Then obviously in the first quarter, we had the $29 million payment to Isis. So I think that’s kind of directionally where we see it going as we move into 2013. Then I think the other key factor obviously is the range of business development activity, which to-date has really been focused on building the early stage pipeline, which by and large consumes a far more manageable amount of spending.

TYSABRI

Marshall Urist – Morgan Stanley: So just wanted to get a few more thoughts on TYSABRI. We did see the net patient adds tickup this quarter. It’ll be great to get your thoughts, Tony, on how the assay is rolling out, what you been able to accomplish so far there and how you see that unit playing out over the balance of the year for TYSABRI volumes.

Tony Kingsley – EVP of Global Commercial Operations: So I think we feel good about the trajectory. As we have said, country-by-country, month-by-month, quarter-by-quarter they have some lumpiness in the way the patient get added but overall that’s on a positive trajectory both in the U.S. and external. As I said, discontinuations in the U.S. have remained stable quarter-over-quarter. I think the key thing is we are seeing increased demand. We’re seeing nice increases in U.S. in TOUCH forms and in demand outside the U.S. I think that’s based on increasing physician confidence in the risk stratification, increasing interest in (integrations) and we do see evidence of moving patients to TYSABRI sooner, earlier switches to get the benefit of the efficacy. So, I think we’re going to continue to see more of that as we go through the course of the year and we feel very good about the trajectory.