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Biogen shells out $1.25bn to protect best-selling MS drug

Published on 18/01/17 at 11:26am

Biogen has announced it is to pay $1.25 billion to Copenhagen-based biotech Forward Pharma in the latest development in a patent dispute over the active ingredient in Biogen’s multiple sclerosis drug Tecfidera. The payment is to secure a share of Forward’s patents covering the drug and provide Biogen with an insurance policy on its future sales.

Forward Pharma argues that its patent on dimethyl fumarate, the active ingredient in Tecfidera, predates Biogen’s own filing and it is therefore entitled to royalty rights for the drug. Forward is pursuing legal action in the US and EU over the disputes; Biogen’s recent payment does not affect these ongoing suits and it could still be forced to pay royalty payments to Forward in the event it loses the cases.

The agreement stipulates that if Tecfidera is kept on the market by a Forward Pharma patent, Biogen will pay a 10% royalty fee from 2021 to the end of 2028, increasing to a 20% royalty in 2029. Forward plans to return the majority of the $1.25 billion payment to its shareholders via a buyback.

Tecfidera is Biogen’s best-selling drug and generated $4 billion for the company last year.  Commenting on the agreement, Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos, who replaced predecessor George Scangos this month, explained: "We believe this agreement will clarify and strengthen our intellectual property for Tecfidera."

Matt Fellows

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