Biogen could get $6b for hemophilia business, analyst says

A Reuters report claims that Cambridge-based Biogen is considering selling its hemophilia business.
A Reuters report claims that Cambridge-based Biogen is considering selling its hemophilia business.Biogen/AP

A senior biotech analyst estimated Tuesday that Biogen Inc.’s hemophilia business, which sells two drugs to treat the bleeding disorder, could fetch more than $6 billion in a divestiture.

Geoffrey Porges, director of therapeutics research for Boston health care investment bank Leerink Partners, made his projection following a report by Reuters that Cambridge-based Biogen was considering selling the business. A Biogen representative declined to comment to the Globe on the Reuters story, which cited anonymous sources.

“With the proposed sale of its hemophilia franchise . . . Biogen would divest itself of a therapeutic area that makes limited sense as the company focuses its portfolio and interests on treatments for neurological diseases,” Porges wrote in a note to investors. “Although hemophilia revenues are growing, the franchise is perceived as noncore to Biogen’s business.”


Biogen, the largest drug maker based in Massachusetts, is the world’s leading developer of drugs to treat the neurological disease multiple sclerosis.

Last fall, the company cut about 880 jobs, including 400 in the state, and ended several research programs in a restructuring driven by slower sales growth and a multiple sclerosis drug trial that fell short of expectations.

The cutbacks, which pared 11 percent of the company’s 8,000-person worldwide workforce, sent Biogen shares plunging and fueled speculation that executives would have to make a move to boost shareholder value.

Biogen shares rose less than 1 percent to $267.61 on Tuesday, but are down more than 44 percent from just over a year ago.

Biogen’s multiple sclerosis business, which includes the drugs Avonex, Tysabri, and Tecfidera, accounts for about 80 percent of the company’s sales.

Its long-acting bleeding disorder drugs — Eloctate, which treats hemophilia A, and Alprolix, which treats hemophilia B — together contributed only about 5 percent of Biogen’s revenue in 2015.

Both were approved by the Food and Drug Administration for US sale in 2014.


In his note, Porges projected that the hemophilia treatments would generate about $770 million in sales this year, 3 percent below analysts’ consensus forecast of $790 million.

A divestiture would help Biogen focus on what many analysts see as a potential long-term growth area: treatments for other neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, according to Porges.

He didn’t respond to a request to discuss a potential divestiture Tuesday.

Porges wrote that Biogen chief executive George Scangos joined the company in 2010, after it had made its investment in the hemophilia program, and recently “acknowledged that it had not much to do with the rest of the company’s portfolio.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.