Various medication manufacturers consider the multiple sclerosis drug market.
Biogen Inc. (NASDAQ:BIIB) controls over 30% of market share in the $19 billion (and growing) multiple sclerosis drug market, but a recent decision to abandon development of MT-1303 calls into question whether or not Biogen can maintain its dominance in the indication over time — especially due to advancing MS programs at competitors Novartis (NYSE:NVS)and Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG).
MS is a central nervous system disorder caused when the immune system incorrectly damages the protective myelin sheath surrounding nerve fibers, causing nerves to lose their ability to transmit information quickly and efficiently.
Over the past five years, there’s been a significant shift from injection drugs to oral MS drugs that reduce patient burden, boost adherence, and slow disease progression. One of the most intriguing of these oral drugs is Novartis’ Gilenya, Gilenya is a S1P modulating drug that the FDA approved in 2010. It works by targeting four of the five S1P receptors to prevent immune cells from leaving a patient’s lymph nodes so that they can’t damage the myelin sheath.
Studies in human trials suggest that Gilenya can significantly reduce disease progression. In 2015, pooled trial data evaluating patient relapses, MS-related brain shrinkage, MRI lesions, and disability progression over a certain period of time found that 27.1% of the patients treated with Gilenya met these criteria at the year one mark versus 9.1% who were treated with placebo.
Gilenya’s solid efficacy has turned it into the second best-selling oral MS therapy behind Biogen’s Tecfidera. In the first nine months of this year, Gilenya’s sales were 15% year over year to $2.3 billion.
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