12:00 AM
 | 
Mar 31, 2003
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Rebif burrowing into U.S.

A year ago, Serono SA's Rebif interferon beta-1a won U.S. marketing approval for multiple sclerosis by breaking Biogen Inc.'s Orphan Drug exclusivity, something it accomplished by running a head-to-head trial against BGEN's Avonex interferon beta-1a.

Now Serono is laying claim to 9%of the U.S. market, boosted by the head-to-head EVIDENCE data that enabled FDA to approve the drug based on a superior showing to Avonex over 24 weeks. During the year, the company also added marketing muscle by bringing in Pfizer Inc. as its co-marketing partner.

Despite the inroads, BGEN argues that it still clearly dominates the U.S. market, and that the scrip data undercounts Avonex sales.

Three interferon betas are marketed to treat MS: Avonex from BGEN (Cambridge, Mass.), Betaseron interferon beta-1b from Schering AG (FSE:SCH; SHR, Berlin, Germany), and Rebif from Serono (SWX:SEO; SRA, Geneva, Switzerland). A fourth product, Copaxone glatiramer acetate, is marketed by Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA, Jerusalem, Israel).

"The reason people think Rebif is better is pretty clear," said...

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