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Biogen prices new MS drug at discount to key competitors

A pedestrian passes the sign outside the headquarters of Biogen Idec Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts June 18, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A pedestrian passes the sign outside the headquarters of Biogen Idec Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts June 18, 2008. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Biogen Idec Inc said on Friday it will charge $54,900 a year for its multiple sclerosis drug, Tecfidera, which received U.S. approval on Wednesday.

The company has priced the drug at a discount to key competitors such as Novartis AG's MS pill Gilenya, which costs roughly $60,000 a year, in a bid to maximize its market share.

"We think this represents solid value to the MS community and demonstrates our commitment to patient access," said Kate Niazi-Sai, a Biogen spokeswoman.

The price is somewhat higher than the low $50,000-range expected by fund managers polled by Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst at ISI Group, but largely in line with analysts' expectations.

Tecfidera is a pill that is widely expected to become the leading oral treatment for MS, steadily taking market share from older, injectible treatments such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' Copaxone, which is currently the market leader.

Tecfidera is expected to generate sales of more than $3 billion, according to Thomson Reuters data.

(Reporting by Toni Clarke, editing by G Crosse)

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