More MS news articles for Oct 2001

Biogen hits Australia with MS treatment

21:30 AEST Mon 29 Oct 2001

US bio-pharmaceutical company Biogen today said a gap in the provision of Multiple Sclerosis treatments left it well positioned to tackle the Australian market.

The company has launched its Australian operation in Sydney to support the growth of its MS treatment locally and to roll out new treatments as they were developed.

Local managing director Peter Lindborg said the company had placed a few sales and marketing staff in Australia in July, but it now employed a total of 16 staff here.

Mr Lindborg said Biogen had recognised an opportunity for strong growth in the Australian market, where he said less than 50 per cent of treatable Australian MS sufferers were treated with available products.

He said there were about 20,000 MS sufferers in Australia.

Around 10,000 were treatable, but only 5,000 received treatment, he said.

Some treatable sufferers did not receive treatment because they were ineligible for rebates under the federal government's Australian Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme, which requires patients suffer from relapsing forms of the disease, Mr Lindborg said.

Some of the remaining 5,000 were undiagnosed or did not like injections, he said.

Mr Lindborg said he hoped the company's beta-1a treatment, which treats relapsing forms of the disease, would appeal to sufferers who did not like injections because the treatment required one injection per week rather than one every two days, like other treatments.

Mr Lindborg said the company would use its Australian base to boost the product's market share to 50 per cent.

He said the treatment had been available in Australia for two years through Biogen's partnership with health care group CSL Ltd, but the product had only attracted a 20 per cent market share because there had been no local sales and marketing staff to back the product.

©AAP 2001