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Biogen Idec 1Q profit rises 50 percent

Biotechnology company Biogen Idec Inc. said Thursday its first-quarter profit rose 50 percent, boosted by higher sales of the multiple sclerosis drug Avonex.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Biotechnology company Biogen Idec Inc. said Thursday its first-quarter profit rose 50 percent, boosted by higher sales of the multiple sclerosis drug Avonex.

The company earned $244 million, or 84 cents per share, compared with a profit of $163.1 million, or 54 cents per share, during the same period a year ago. Revenue rose 10 percent to $1.04 billion from $942.2 million.

Excluding charges, the company said it earned $1.05 per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a profit of $1 per share on revenue of $1.08 billion.

Avonex sales again drove the results, gaining 4 percent to reach $555 million while Tysabri sales rose 44 percent to $165.2 million. Biogen sells Tysabri, another MS treatment, through a partnership with Ireland-based Elan Corp. and Wall Street remains concern over the treatments growth.

The companies reported four cases of a rare brain infection in patients in 2008. Concerns about the disease, called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, caused Tysabri to be pulled from the market in 2005. It was reintroduced in 2006 with restrictions.

At the end of March, about 40,000 patients were taking Tysabri worldwide, the company said, backing the drug's risk-benefit profile for multiple sclerosis patients.

Biogen's first-quarter revenue also included about $279 million from its partnership with Genentech on the non-Hodgkin's lymphomas and rheumatoid arthritis drug Rituxan. Genentech is now part of Roche.

"Revenue growth from all three of our marketed products and continued advancement of our robust pipeline during the quarter were in line with our expectations," said Biogen President and Chief Executive James C. Mullen, in a statement.

Looking ahead, the company reaffirmed its outlook for profit, excluding charges, above $4 per share. Analysts expect profit of $4.05 per share.

The first-quarter report comes as the company faces another board takeover attempt by activist investor Carl Icahn, following the failed attempt in June.

Icahn Partners LP has nominated a slate of four board members. Biogen has urged shareholders to vote for the company's slate.