By: Matt Rego
Shares of Biogen Idec Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB) were up past 10% this morning during premarket and now up around 6%. as positive news poured from its drug trial treating Alzheimer’s. The drug, aducanumab, posted solid Phase I data back in December, which hinted at the drug’s ability to combat Alzheimer’s with their amyloid antibody. The current Phase Ib trials showed that Biogen’s drug successfully reduced amyloid plague on patients’ brains. This plague is what many in the medical profession believe is the cause of the majority of Alzheimer’s symptoms. Biogen is set to enter Phase III trials later this year, with an FDA decision coming next year on the Alzheimer’s drug.
Alzheimer’s treatment advancing, but still has a ways to go
Overall, Biogen’s advancement on Alzheimer’s treatment is encouraging, but the fact of the matter is that there is still a bit of a process before the drug is approved and it can be declared that Alzheimer’s is curable. Biogen does have some competition with already-approved Alzheimer’s treatments, but the competition’s offerings have limited benefits and do not actively solve issues such as amyloid plague. “This is the first time an investigational drug for Alzheimer’s disease has demonstrated a statistically significant reduction on amyloid plaque as well as a statistically significant slowing of clinical impairment in patients with prodromal or mild disease,” says Dr Alfred Sandrock, Chief Medical Officer at Biogen (Marketwatch).
Biogen continues to outperform on high expectations
Biogen has been on a bull run lately, with the stock up 36.50% year to date. Biotechnology continues to be a hot spot for investors, as the industry continues to rally and see new advancement in drug trials and research. The iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index ETF (IBB) is up 20.44% year to date and up nearly 300% in the past five years. Biogen is currently outperforming the broader biotech index due to euphoria from the Alzheimer’s trials, which stand to make a big impact on the industry and with people who suffer from the disease.
Overall, Biogen is in a good position right now. The trials are not over, however, and there still is the all-important Phase III trials to go through before the FDA can hand down its blessing. Biogen is still working out some of the kinks such as smaller sample sizes, accounting for placebo group’s cognitive decline, brain swelling for APOE4 carriers, etc. However, Biogen is off to a great start on a drug with serious purpose.