Targeted marketing strategy
To promote the use of Spinraza for SMA (spinal muscular atrophy), Biogen (BIIB) has been actively educating and creating awareness for the drug among the physician and patient communities. Like Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ (ALXN) Soliris, Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ (VRTX) Orkambi, and United Therapeutics’ (UTHR) Unituxin, Spinraza is a rare disease drug indicated for a small segment of the total population. Despite a small addressable market size, aggressive marketing and Biogen’s involvement in multiple community engagement initiatives may boost future revenues for Spinraza.
If Biogen manages to effectively market Spinraza, it may have a favorable impact on the company’s revenue growth and subsequently its stock price. This may also prove beneficial for the share prices of the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) since the company makes up about 0.31% of its total portfolio holdings.
Education and awareness
In its 1Q17 earnings conference call, Biogen announced positive end-of-study results for its Phase 3 trial CHERISH, which evaluated the efficacy and safety of Spinraza therapy in people who may suffer from type 2 or type 3 SMA. Data from this trial have demonstrated statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in the motor functions of patients treated with Spinraza.
Biogen also plans to release interim data from the Phase 2 trial NURTURE, which evaluated the efficacy and safety of Spinraza in infants younger than six weeks old and who were genetically diagnosed or showed presymptomatic signs of SMA. In this trial, the majority of the 20 enrolled infants managed to achieve motor milestones consistent with infants without the disease.
Based on these results, Biogen plans to introduce gene therapy as a complementary mechanism. The company has already collaborated with the University of Pennsylvania to advance is SMA gene therapy program.
In the next and final part of this series, we’ll look at Biogen’s Alzheimer’s program.