- Sales of Biohaven Pharmaceutical's migraine medicine Nurtec ODT shot past Wall Street forecasts once again in the third quarter, as demand rose for the only treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration for both treating and preventing the debilitating headaches.
- Preliminary Nurtec ODT sales reached $136 million in the three months through September, bringing total revenue to about $336 million since the drug first launched in March 2020. Doctors have written more than 1 million prescriptions for the medicine, Biohaven claimed Tuesday.
- The figure surpassed even some of the more optimistic predictions from Wall Street analysts. Piper Sandler, which raised its projected sales figure to $122 million the day before the announcement, said the consensus estimate was $114 million. Mizuho Securities expected revenue of $110 million.
Nurtec ODT now leads the market among new oral migraine medications, grabbing about 61% of new-to-brand prescriptions in its class, according to Biohaven. It first won U.S. approval as an acute treatment in February 2020 and competes with AbbVie's Ubrelvy and Eli Lilly's Reyvow for that use. In May 2021, the company won approval to sell the drug as a preventive treatment as well, an indication for which several injectable drugs from Lilly, Amgen and Teva are available and maintain sizable market shares.
The dual label for both treatment and prevention could be an advantage for Biohaven, as patients and their physicians can more easily customize therapy, CEO Vlad Coric said. Sales of the drug climbed 46% from the second quarter, when revenue also beat analyst expectations.
Biohaven has sought to give the orally disintegrating tablets a high public profile, sponsoring a NASCAR car and bringing in celebrities including Khloe Kardashian and Whoopi Goldberg to tout the medicine. Still, the company is spending less than rivals by focusing on a digital-first approach, Coric told Biopharma Dive in July.
The success of Nurtec ODT may make Biohaven an attractive takeover target for a larger company with a primary care or neurology sales force, Vamil Divan, an analyst at Mizuho Securities, wrote in a note to investors. But in the meantime, Biohaven needs to "continue to invest aggressively" to compete as a stand-alone company in the migraine market, Divan said.
And outside of Nurtec ODT, Biohaven has experienced some research setbacks. Just last month, the company said an experimental drug to treat a rare neurodegenerative disease failed in a late-stage trial. Earlier this year, Biohaven reported that an experimental Alzheimer's disease drug didn't significantly improve brain function in patients with mild-to-moderate disease.