Celgene's Otezla grows, but still lags anti-TNF market
- With the psoriatic arthritis market expected to grow to almost $4 billion by 2023, Celgene is placing big bets on its oral PSA drug Otezla (apremilast), which brought in $275 million during the third quarter, beating analysts' estimates.
- Approved for the indication in early 2014, the oral phosphodieasterase-4 (PDE-4) inhibitor got a green light from FDA in psoriasis just six months later. Celgene said it now has reimbursement for Otezla in 20 countries.
- "Sales in Q3 [of Otezla] continue to grow despite the regular market declines of prescribing typically seen in the summer months. While we remain focused on launch execution in Germany, in other early launch markets we were able to achieve critical reimbursement decisions in several key European markets," said Celgene's President of Global Inflammation and Immunology Scott Smith on the Thursday morning call.
Despite progress for Otezla in the European market, the company is trying to jumpstart the drug in the crowded U.S. market against a range of other drugs, such as the blockbuster TNF inhibitors and Pfizer's oral Xeljanz. AbbVie's TNF inhibitor Humira (adalimumab) brought in $14 billion in 2015 and competition is set to become even more fierce as biosimilars enter this market
So far, Otezla has failed to break into the injectable market. Yet Celgene notes the drug is doing well in patients who have not tried TNF inhibitors. Otezla now represents one-fifth of the systemic treated psoriasis market.
"Consistent with the Otezla value proposition on pricing strategy today much of this growth is coming from the pre-biologic market segment," said Smith.
"Approximately 90% of patients are coming to Otezla therapy from something other than a biologic. So, they are either switching off an oral, switching off topical, or are coming on to Otezla from nothing and only 10% are coming on from a biologic therapy," he added.
Smith noted patients are staying on the drug for at least one year, above the time patients usually stay on biologics.
"Sixty-five percent of the patients who finished one year in the clinical trial were still on the drug for years which is really unprecedented. And these were in PSA studies, which is really unprecedented relative to data from any other comparator or any other clinical trial," noted Smith on the third quarter call.
"So, the compliance is good through one year. I don't have the commercial experience to say what it looks like for two years or three years because we don't have that data yet, but we believe the compliance will continue."
- Celgene Statement
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