Biogen Idec has posted third-quarter results which show that sales of its new oral drug Tecfidera have stormed past analyst forecasts, pushing group profits up more than 22%.

Net income came in at $487.6 million, while revenues increased 32% to $1.83 billion. The biggest earners were the MS drugs Avonex (interferon beta-1a), which slipped just $2.8 million to $733.4 million and Tysabri (natalizumab), which contributed $401 million, up 46%. The latter rise is linked to Biogen acquiring all the rights to the drug from Elan Corp.

However most interest came from the stellar performance of Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate), Biogen's MS pill which was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in March. The drug brought in $286 million, way ahead of Wall Street expectations and despite being the third pill to be launched, after Novartis' Gilenya (fingolimod) and Sanofi's Aubagio (teriflunomide), Tecfidera is already the leading oral MS therapy in the USA after only six months on the market.

Biogen is still waiting for the green light in Europe while patent issues are resolved and the company said it "continues to work to make Tecfidera regulatory data protection clearer to all parties prior to approval from the European Medicines Agency".  

As for Biogen's other products, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer drug Rituxan (rituximab), partnered with Roche, brought in $303 million, up 5%. Fampyra, a prolonged-release tablet formulation of fampridine to improve walking in adults with MS licensed from Acorda Therapeutics, climbed 37% to $16.7 million. Sales of the psoriasis treatment Fumaderm (fumaric acid) inched up 0.5% to just over $16 million.