- Ariad Pharmaceuticals on Tuesday kicked off an inaugural awareness day for ALK+ lung cancer, debuting a new patient-oriented website and social media hashtag in partnership with the Lung Cancer Foundation of America.
- Similar to efforts by other drugmakers, Ariad seeks to engage with patients and the advocacy community on a specific disease, in this case ALK+ non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
- While NSCLC is the most common form of lung cancer, only between 3% and 8% of those patients will have a rearrangement in the ALK gene. Ariad is currently in pivotal trials with brigatinib, a small molecule drug aimed at NSCLC expressing the ALK gene.
Ariad's newly launched ALK+ Day, which will be held on the third Thursday each November, is designed to build awareness by encouraging connections between advocates and patients. Together with the Lung Cancer Foundation of America (LCFA), Ariad encourages patients to share the "little things" they are thankful for by using the hashtag #LittleThingsLCFA.
Additionally, Ariad launched the lightly branded "Living with ALK" website to provide information on the disease and clinical trials to patients.
All of this outreach is likely aimed at building a foundation for Ariad's experimental brigatinib, which is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration for approval in second line ALK+ NSCLC. Brigatinib has a target action (PDUFA) date of April 29, 2017 and a regulatory submission in Europe is planned for next year.
Building relationships with patients might be more necessary now, after sharp criticism from Senator Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and other lawmakers put Ariad in the spotlight for the $199,000 price tag for its leukemia drug Iclusig (ponatinib).
Ariad has since pushed back on the scrutiny, pointing to its small size and R&D investment. But with the focus on drug pricing showing no signs of ebbing, Ariad could find itself under pressure again.