Biogen's Avonex Remains the Drug of Choice, Teva's Copaxone Shows Strong Growth
Thursday March 1
Source: PR Newswire
MINNEAPOLIS, March 1 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray Senior Biotechnology Analyst Peter L. Ginsberg, today released data from a proprietary research survey regarding the current and future state of the multiple sclerosis (MS) drug prescription market. Ginsberg, a 2000 Wall Street Journal All-Star analyst, distributed a seven-question survey to 1,000 neurologists in the United States, receiving responses from 245 clinicians who treat a total of more than 4,000 MS patients monthly, for an encouraging 24.5 percent response rate. Results of the survey indicate that significant growth is ahead in the domestic MS market.
"Our survey results indicate that 25 percent of respondents plan to prescribe Biogen's Avonex 'much more often' or 'more often' in 2001, while only 12 percent plan to prescribe Avonex 'less often.' Moreover, 40 percent of respondents plan to prescribe Teva's Copaxone 'much more often' or 'more often' while only 5 percent plan to prescribe Copaxone 'less often.' The only multiple sclerosis drug that was indicated to be prescribed less often, was Chiron's Betaseron," said Ginsberg.
Ginsberg believes these data imply that U.S. Avonex sales will grow moderately in the United States in 2001, in-line with his current domestic sales projection of $632 million, which represents 14 percent growth. "Clinicians commonly described two reasons behind plans for more Avonex prescriptions in 2001," said Ginsberg. "First, Avonex's ease of use (Avonex's once/week administration compares with three times/week injections for Betaseron and daily injections for Copaxone) was mentioned by roughly 15 clinicians as a reason for expanding use of the drug. Second, another 15 clinicians emphasized the strong Avonex efficacy data, including several who mentioned the CHAMPS data specifically, as their reason for prescribing Avonex more often going forward."
In addition, Ginsberg's results indicate that secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) may make up a much larger portion of the overall MS patient population than previously perceived. "Respondents indicated that 29 percent of their MS patients have SPMS, greater than the 20 percent of MS patients generally thought to have SPMS. In our view, this implies that the recent positive Avonex SPMS trial results may have a greater impact on the drug's use than would have been anticipated," said Ginsberg. "We do not believe that these positive results, which were announced in January but have not yet been presented or published, were reflected in our survey results.
"We reiterate our Buy rating on Biogen (BGEN, #, $73 3/8) in light of the moderate Avonex domestic growth in 2001 predicted by our survey. We also maintain our Neutral rating on Chiron (CHIR, #, $47 11/16) in light of the declining Betaseron sales indicated by our survey results. While we do not formally cover Teva (TEVA, #), we do note the very positive implications of our survey results for the company's key drug, Copaxone," said Ginsberg.
Peter Ginsberg is a managing director of U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray and a senior research analyst, focusing on the biotechnology industry. He was named a Wall Street Journal All-Star among biotechnology analysts in 1999 and 2000. Ginsberg joined the Equity Research department in April 1997. Prior to joining U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, Ginsberg was a biotechnology analyst at Vector Securities in Deerfield, Ill. Ginsberg previously had been employed as a health care and chemicals analyst at USAA Investment Management, a manager of more than $25 billion in assets, in San Antonio, Texas. Ginsberg received an A.B. in economics, cum laude, at Princeton University and an M.B.A. at the Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College, where he was elected a Tuck Scholar. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of AIMR.
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Source: U.S. Bancorp
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