%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ Biogen Inc. announced first-quarter earnings were unchanged from a year ago because of increased costs to market its only product on the market, Avonex, a multiple sclerosis drug.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based company said net income was $72 million, or 47 cents a share, unchanged from the first quarter last year. That was in line with the average estimate of 19 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call.

Revenue rose 22 percent, to $288 million from $237 million.

The company also announced Wednesday a plan to collaborate with Celltech Group PLC of Great Britain on CDP 571, which Celltech is developing as a treatment for Crohn's disease.

Under the arrangement, manufacturing of the drug would be transferred after its launch to Biogen's production facility in Research Triangle Park, N.C. The companies will work together to explore possible uses for other conditions, including psoriasis.

``Biogen is now positioned to have four products on the market in 2005, by which time we expect to reach our goal of $2 billion in annual product revenues,'' James Mullen, Biogen's chief executive, said in a statement.

In March, the Food and Drug Administration approved a rival multiple sclerosis drug to Avonex manufactured by Swiss pharmaceutical company Serono SA.

Biogen lowered its earnings forecast for next year to $1.70 to $1.78 a share, from previous estimates of $1.90 to $2 a share, because of increased costs for sales, research and development.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial/First Call had expected earnings of $1.87 a share for the year.

Biogen shares rose $1.36, or 3.3 percent, to close at $42.90 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.


On the Net: