Spinraza Has Emerged as Key Growth Driver for Ionis in 2017



Spinraza growth prospects

In 1H17, Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS) recorded revenues of about $27.6 million related to royalty income received from Biogen from Spinraza sales. The company also received $50 million worth of milestone payments from Biogen after Spinraza secured approval from the European Commission. On August 30, 2017, Ionis Pharmaceuticals announced that it had received another $40 million worth of milestone payments from Biogen related to securing pricing approval for Spinraza in Japan. Ionis Pharmaceuticals has earned more than $435 million from its Spinraza partnership with Biogen.


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Ionis Pharmaceuticals and Biogen (BIIB) entered a collaborative agreement to develop and commercialize RNA-targeted therapy, Spinraza, in January 2012. Since then, Ionis has also entered other collaborative agreements with Biogen, effectively combining its expertise in antisense technology with the latter’s competency in the neurological disorder segment. Besides licensing Spinraza to Biogen, Ionis Pharmaceuticals is also working on five investigational neurodegenerative disease drugs with Biogen, and the companies are evaluating multiple targets for developing novel drugs. In 1H17, Ionis Pharmaceuticals received $15.0 million worth of milestone payments from Biogen related to validation of two investigational neurological drug targets.

In 1H17, payments from Biogen accounted for 46% of Ionis Pharmaceuticals’ total revenues. Notably, Ionis Pharmaceuticals makes up about 2.2% of the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF’s (XBI) total portfolio holdings. The above diagram shows the difference that the first and only approved spinal muscular atrophy (or SMA) therapy, Spinraza, has made for patients.

Market demand

Spinraza witnessed a solid uptake in the US in 3Q17 and has reported revenues close to $198 million. The drug witnessed $195 million worth of revenues in 2Q17, of which $30 million was related to inventory buildup to support increasing demand. In 3Q17, inventory levels of the drug remained flat.

The robust demand trends for Spinraza will enable Ionis Pharmaceuticals to compete effectively with other rare disease players such as United Therapeutics (UTHR) and Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN) for investor dollars.

In the next article, we’ll discuss Spinraza’s sales metrics in greater detail.


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