MannKind maps out Afrezza strategy
- Now that MannKind has taken back rights to its inhaled insulin Afrezza from former partner Sanofi, the biotech is building out its commercialization plans.
- Over the last few months, MannKind has been expanding its organization to meet the increased demands of marketing Afrezza on its own—hiring a commercial management team, developing a marketing organization, hiring nurses (to function as diabetes educators), medical science liaisons, a payer management organization and a field sales force.
- MannKind has also been transitioning its manufacturing organization to supplier-owned branded product.
"As part of mapping our strategy for rebuilding the company and re-launching Afrezza, we identified a number of issues that could slow or prevent the sales growth we sought. We then developed a plan for addressing each of them," declared CEO Matthew Pfeffer during a second quarter call with analysts.
"These issues included, amongst others, pricing, access, reimbursement, titration, spirometry, product positioning and targeting, and potential label changes. Many of these plans have already been put into place; others are still to come," he added.
Afrezza has had a storied past. The drug struggled to gain FDA approval for almost a decade and finally got the greenlight after multiple rejections. MannKind was able to find a marketing partner in diabetes dynamo Sanofi, but even the big pharma couldn't get the niche product off the ground.
MannKind Chief Commercial Officer Michael Castagna told investors the company has been able to staunch the bleeding since Afrezza has been back in its hands.
"I'm really impressed that within the first three weeks to four weeks of our sales force being out there, we've been able to stem a nine-month decline that's been ongoing from September of 2015 and stabilize that during the month of July," he said, noting the sales force is targeting about 75% of the insulin market.
Castagna also argues Afrezza is priced more favorably than traditional insulin, with a wholesale acquisition cost (WAC) checking in at between $9 to $18 per day depending on patient dosage needs. Traditional insulin costs about $19 a day.
Expect to see MannKind rolling out its own marketing campaign over the coming months as the biotech tries to carve out a niche for its inhalable insulin.
- Seeking Alpha Earnings Call Transcript
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