Biogen shares soared on historical data on Alzheimer’s disease, driving up competitors’ prices

Biogen shares soared on historical data on Alzheimer’s disease, driving up competitors’ prices


Written by Natalie Grover and Manas Mishra

(Reuters) – Biogen Inc is set to add more than $10 billion to its market value on Wednesday, as analysts hailed the success of a surprise trial of an experimental Alzheimer’s drug it developed with Eisai as a clear win by analysts.

The trial results released late Tuesday may be a rare victory in the search for a cure for memory-stealing disease after years of clinical failure.

Biogen (NASDAQ:) stock rose 35.4% to $267.61 in early US trade, putting it on track to erase all of its losses this year. Shares of Japan’s Eisai Co (OTC:) Ltd jumped 17% to the daily limit in Tokyo.

Shares of competitors Eli Lilly (NYSE:) and Roche rose between 6% and 7%.

Biogen and Eisai said their experimental drug, lecanemab, slowed the progression of wasting brain disease by 27% compared to a placebo, in a large trial on patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

“This is by far the best-case scenario for the program as there doesn’t seem to be much uncertainty in the results,” Baird analyst Brian Skorney said.

Evan Segerman, a BMO analyst, described the data as an “unequivocal win” for Biogen and Alzheimer’s patients.

The drug targets a toxic plaque of a protein known as amyloid beta that has long been considered crucial in halting the progression of the deadly brain disease, but previous attempts have led to failure after failure.

This so-called amyloid hypothesis took a particularly hard hit last year, after US regulators rescinded their panel of external experts to approve another Biogen drug called Aduhelm, based on its ability to remove plaque rather than proving it helped slow cognitive decline.

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Biogen and Eisai’s lecanemab booster trial has sparked hope for success in trials testing Roche’s Gantenerumab and Lilly’s donanemab.

“There haven’t been many wins to celebrate, nor anything close to ROI, so it’s important that results like these are rewarded and motivated,” said Daniel Chancellor, Citeline Healthcare Analyst.

Shares of smaller Alzheimer’s drug developers – Prothena Corporation Plc – jumped 64% and Acumen Pharmaceuticals Inc. jumped 61%.

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