History Overview

Overview

Founded in 1978 by a small group of visionary scientists, Biogen helped pioneer the biotechnology industry. Today, we are one of the oldest independent biotechnology companies in the world.

For the last four decades, hundreds of thousands of people around the world living with serious illnesses have benefited from innovative and important medicines developed by the people of Biogen. We are proud of the role we have played in advancing the field of biotechnology and helping patients — and are building on this legacy of great science and discovery as we pursue innovation in all that we do.

1970s
1978

A group of accomplished scientists and three venture capitalists gather in Geneva, Switzerland, to establish Biogen NV, a new pharmaceutical company with an emphasis on breakthroughs in biology.

1979

Biogen scientist Charles Weissmann, M.D., Ph.D., announces that he has successfully cloned biologically active human leukocyte (alpha) interferon. Biogen grants worldwide license to the pharmaceutical company, Schering-Plough, for the interferon alpha.

Biogen scientist Kenneth Murray, Ph.D., synthesizes bacteria of hepatitis B virus protein antigens.

1980s
1980

Biogen founder Walter Gilbert, Ph.D., wins the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in DNA sequencing.

1982

The company opens facilities — including its new headquarters — in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

1983

Biogen is listed on the Nasdaq stock market, following the completion of its Initial Public Offering (IPO).

1985

Silicon Valley venture capitalists join forces with research scientists to establish IDEC Pharmaceuticals in San Francisco, California. IDEC Pharmaceuticals is focused on developing and commercializing monoclonal antibodies.

1986

Biogen establishes its first manufacturing facilities, located in Cambridge, MA

1989

Biogen announces FDA approval of a recombinant hepatitis B vaccine from SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline). The vaccine used technology licensed from Biogen.

1990s
1991

IDEC submits its IPO to become a NASDAQ-listed firm.

1993

Biogen founder Phillip Sharp, Ph.D., receives the Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery of split genes.

Dr. Kenneth Murray – one of Biogen’s founders – is knighted for his discovery of hepatitis B antigens.

1995

Biogen expands its U.S. presence to Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

1996

Biogen announces FDA approval of interferon beta-1a for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). It is approved in the European Union one year later. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

1997

The FDA approves IDEC’s rituximab for certain types of B-cell Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This is the first monoclonal antibody therapy to be approved for a type of cancer. The FDA eventually approves rituximab for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, granulomatosis with polyangiitis (Wegener’s granulomatosis), microscopic polyangiitis and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

1998

U.S. President Bill Clinton awards Biogen the annual National Medal of Technology. This is the highest distinction bestowed upon the leading technological innovators in the U.S.

2000s
2000

Biogen introduces MS ActiveSource®, a comprehensive support service for multiple sclerosis patients and caregivers. This program continues today as AboveMS.

2002

Biogen opens its 90,000-liter, large-scale, manufacturing plant in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

The company opens its first Community Lab, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This teaching facility provides hands-on science learning and information on science careers for local middle and high school students.

2003

Biogen breaks ground on a new manufacturing facility in Hillerød, Denmark.

Biogen and IDEC merge, creating Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB).

The Biogen Idec Foundation is established for philanthropic initiatives. The Biogen Foundation continues to promote science education in our community.

2004

The FDA approves natalizumab, a monotherapy for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of MS. FDA later approves natalizumab (2008) for the treatment of moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease in patients who have failed or cannot tolerate available therapies. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

Biogen Idec opens its international headquarters in Zug, Switzerland.



2005

Biogen Idec and collaborator Elan Pharmaceuticals voluntarily remove natalizumab from the market, after the emergence of one confirmed case and one suspected case of a serious side effect called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), an infrequent but serious brain infection that leads to death or severe disability. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

2006

After Biogen Idec’s exhaustive reevaluation of natalizumab and review by an FDA Advisory Board, FDA reapproves natalizumab for marketing, and the therapy is reintroduced in the U.S. and released in the European Union with a warning for PML. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

Biogen Idec acquires Fumapharm AG. This European company developed the technology that would lead to the 2013 approval of dimethyl fumarate, a therapy for relapsing forms of MS. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

2007

Biogen Idec acquires Syntonix Pharmaceuticals, which eventually leads to the development of two hemophilia therapies.

2009

Biogen Idec receives a license from Acorda Therapeutics to commercialize fampridine outside the U.S. In 2011, Biogen Idec received European approval for fampridine as a treatment for the improvement of walking in adults with MS. The therapy is called dalfampridine in the U.S. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

2010s
2010

Biogen Idec refines its business strategy by focusing on new therapies in neurology, immunology and hemophilia.

The FDA approves rituximab with chemotherapy for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

The company enters into a licensing agreement with Knopp Neurosciences, which brings in dexpramipexole, a compound that the company investigates for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).










2011

A new delivery method of interferon beta-1a is launched in the European Union and Canada. It is approved in the U.S. the following year. This product offers dosing innovations to individuals with MS. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

Biogen Idec executes deals with Portola Pharmaceuticals for an oral therapy for autoimmune diseases, and with Samsung Biologics on biosimilars to form a joint venture now called Samsung Bioepis.

Biogen Idec’s inaugural Care Deeply Volunteer Day kicks off. Today, thousands of Biogen employees around the world participate in what has become an annual day of service.










2012

Biogen Idec helps to create a new research consortium to identify new approaches to treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Biogen Idec collaborates with the National Hemophilia Foundation, the American Thrombosis and Hemostasis Network, and the Puget Sound Blood Center on a nationwide program that offers free genetic testing to people with hemophilia and their families.

Biogen Idec announces a collaboration with Isis Pharmaceuticals (which later became Ionis Pharmaceuticals) to identify new approaches in treating spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), myotonic dystrophy type 1 and neurological/neuromuscular disorders.

Biogen Idec acquires Stromedix, a biotechnology company focused on innovative therapies for fibrosis and organ failure.




2013

Biogen Idec announces disappointing Phase III results for dexpramipexole, which is being investigated for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The study revealed that dexpramipexole does not slow the progression of ALS.

Dimethyl fumarate, a new oral therapy for relapsing forms of MS, is approved in the U.S., Canada and Australia. It is approved in Europe a year later. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

Biogen Idec completes its acquisition of all rights to natalizumab from Elan Pharmaceuticals International, Ltd., an affiliate of Elan Corporation. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

The FDA approves obinutuzumab for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Biogen Idec collaborates on obinutuzumab with Genentech, a wholly owned subsidiary of Roche Pharmaceuticals. The Roche Group maintains sole responsibility for the development, manufacturing and commercialization of obinutuzumab in the U.S. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

Biogen Idec engages in new collaboration agreements with Galapagos NV subsidiary BioFocus on a treatment for the autoimmune skin disease, scleroderma, and with Ionis Pharmaceuticals on therapies for neurological disorders.

Biogen Idec moves its company headquarters back to Cambridge, Massachusetts, after several years in Weston, Massachusetts.



2014

The FDA approves two therapies for the treatment of hemophilia A and B — the first new treatment advances for these diseases in nearly two decades.

Peginterferon beta-1a is approved by the FDA for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS and in the European Union for relapsing-remitting MS. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

In collaboration with Sobi, Biogen Idec announces that it intends to donate one billion international units of clotting factor therapy to humanitarian aid programs in the developing world over the coming years. This program continues through Bioverativ, an independent publicly traded company spin-off of Biogen’s leading portfolio of hemophilia assets.

Biogen Idec finalizes collaboration agreements with Sangamo BioSciences on therapeutics for hemoglobinopathies and with Eisai to jointly develop and commercialize therapies for Alzheimer’s disease.


2015

The company returns to its original name: Biogen.

Biogen acquires U.K.-based Convergence Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, adding to its portfolio of pipeline candidates for neuropathic pain.

2016

The European Commission approved etanercept, the first etanercept biosimilar, and an infliximab biosimilar, for use in the European Union.

Biogen announces a collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania on multiple gene therapy programs.

Biogen and AbbVie receive FDA approval of once-monthly daclizumab for MS. It will be approved in the European Union in July 2016. In March 2018, the companies voluntarily withdraw daclizumab from the market. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

Biogen names Michel Vounatsos as Chief Executive Officer and member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Vounatsos begins to lead the company in Jan. 2017 and continues to serve as Biogen’s CEO and board member today.

Nusinersen, the first treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, is approved in the U.S. It is approved in the European Union in 2017. Click here for full prescribing information (U.S. only).

2017

Siemens Healthcare and Biogen announce agreement to jointly develop new MRI tools for MS.

Biogen spins off its global hemophilia business into an independent, publicly traded company, Bioverativ Inc.

Biogen licenses BIIB092, a phase 2 anti-tau antibody from Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Biogen acquires BIIB093 (glibenclamide IV) from Remedy Pharmaceuticals for large hemispheric infarction (LHI), a severe form of ischemic stroke.

The European Commission approves an adalimumab biosimilar, for use in the European Union.

Biogen and Eisai expand an existing collaboration arrangement to develop and commercialize investigational Alzheimer’s disease treatments, including Phase 3 aducanumab.

Biogen and Alkermes announce a license and collaboration agreement to develop and commercialize BIIB098 (monomethyl fumarate prodrug) for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Biogen and Ionis enter into a new collaboration to identify novel therapies for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy.





2018

Biogen celebrates its 40th anniversary.

The Biogen Foundation commits $10 million to STEM education in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts.