Biogen Idec the world’s third largest biotechnology firm, has transformed the $991 million dollar loss recorded in the fourth quarter of 2003, when it was forced to contend with costs relating to the merger between Biogen and Idec Pharmaceuticals [[14/11/03d]], into income of $48 million for the last three months of 2004, driven by increasing sales of its multiple sclerosis and oncology drugs. However, the company’s share price dipped slightly by the close of trading on the Nasdaq yesterday after the firm trimmed its forecasts for the coming year, saying that figures would likely be held back by the launch of its new MS offering, Tysabri (natalizumab).

Revenues for the three-month period almost doubled from the year-ago figure of just under $300 million to $586 million, and included a 19% increase in sales of Avonex (interferon beta-1a), for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS, to $370 million. The company’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma agent, Rituxan (rituximab), brought in $429 million during the quarter – up 16%. Revenues from Tysabri, which is co-marketed with Ireland’s Elan Corporation, topped $3 million in the quarter – it won US approval at the end of November [[24/11/04a]].

For the full-year 2004, the company reported net income of some revenues $518 million, on the back of a 19% hike in revenues to $1.85 billion, driven primarily by sales of Avonex – up 21% to $1.42 billion – and Rituxan, which climbed 25% to $615 million [[12/02/04f]].

For 2005, the firm says that, given the costs behind the Tysabri launch, it is expecting low double-digit growth for both revenue and earnings. However, James Mullen, Biogen Idec’s chief executive, confirmed that the firm was on track to meet its long-term goals of achieving approximately 15% top and 20% bottom line operating performance.