Why George Scangos deserves credit for Biogen's hot streak

Biogen Idec ($BIIB) has been one of the toasts of Wall Street largely because of the promise of its blockbuster hopeful called BG-12 for multiple sclerosis, and the company launched the program long before the arrival of CEO George Scangos in 2010. Yet industry watchers argue that Scangos deserves kudos for the success of the biotech powerhouse since his tenure began, Forbes editor Matthew Herper writes in a feature on the chief executive's impact.

Scangos made the move to exit oncology research and operations in San Diego within his first several months on the job, delivering cutbacks that investors like the billionaire Carl Icahn had called on management to make for years. However, the Forbes article points out that Scangos brought much more than the axe to Biogen. He brought plenty of brains too that have helped refocus the company after years of disappointing its investors and underperforming its peers.

"What George did is cut out the fat and focused the company on core programs that would drive value," Robyn Karnauskas of Deutsche Bank told Herper. "He gets credit that the company is able to focus on selling them and doing the right studies. Before that it was all over the place."

Scangos' successes over the next two years are expected to be defined by the market performance of BG-12, an MS pill under FDA review that everyone seems to agree is destined for approval and billions of dollars in annual sales. As Herper's article articulates, Genentech succeeded in a similar case years ago with deft commercialization of the cancer blockbuster Avastin and investors who went along for the ride reaped the rewards of a surge in stock value and Roche's ($RHHBY) purchase of the biotech giant.

With BG-12, Biogen has in its hands the kind of commercial opportunity afforded to few biopharma outfits. Scangos and his team face a major test and their success could reshape one of the industry's oldest and most legendary biotech companies.  

- get more from Herper's feature

Special Reports: BG-12 - Blockbuster buzz: 15 top therapies in late-stage development | George Scangos - The 25 most influential people in biopharma today

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