- Biotech Radius Health, Inc. expects quickly expanding payer coverage for its newly launched osteoporosis drug Tymlos to help it begin to steal market share away from Eli Lilly & Co.'s incumbent blockbuster Forteo.
- Nearly three months after launching Tymlos, Radius has secured contracts with payers covering over 130 million lives in the U.S. Notably, major pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts recently added Tymlos to its 2018 preferred formulary, shutting out Lilly's Forteo.
- "We're clearly moving at a faster pace with the top pharmacy benefit management firms," said David Snow, chief commercial officer at Radius, on the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company's second quarter earnings call Thursday afternoon.
Radius will be building Tymlos' (abaloparatide) commercial position under the guidance of new CEO Jesper Hoiland, who took over for the former company chief Bob Ward. In announcing Hoiland's appointment, Radius' chairman highlighted Hoiland's experience launching new products while at the Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk.
Hoiland's task was made significantly easier in July when the Food and Drug Administration rejected Amgen's osteoprosis drug Evenity (romosuzumab), a potential rival to Tymlos.
Like Tymlos and Forteo (teriparatide), Evenity was designed to build bone density in postmenopausal women at high risk of fracture. But a higher rate of cardiovascular adverse events in patients receiving Evenity versus those on placebo led the FDA to issue a complete response letter to Amgen.
This leaves Tymlos with a clearer path to challenging Forteo.
Radius priced Tymlos at an annualized wholesale acquisition cost of $19,500 — about a 40% discount to Forteo's roughly $33,000 annual cost, according to an August 3 note from Jefferies analyst Eun Yang. That competitive price should help drive uptake, and played a direct role in Express Scripts' decision to preferentially cover Tymlos over Forteo for next year.
Lower pricing of Tymlos could also help to push the use of anabolic drugs earlier in the course of treatment, especially for those patients at highest risk. Currently many women are started on generic biphosphonates like alendronate, which slow bone breakdown rather than boost bone formation.
"There remains a substantial treatment gap in at-risk postmenopausal osteoporotic women who are also anabolic-appropriate patients," commented Radius' Snow on Thursdays call with analysts. Radius is focusing first on this higher risk population, particularly women who are over 60 and have had a history of bone fracture.
Radius pricing advantage in the anabolic market may be short-lived, however. Lilly's principal patents covering Forteo expire by mid-2019, potentially opening the door to cheap generic copies of the bone-building agent to enter the market and compete with Tymlos.
For now though, Radius' lucky break from the FDA's rejection of Evenity plus expanding market access should drive sales growth. Jefferies forecasts sales to hit about $120 million next year, or a little less than a sixth of the $771 million Forteo earned last year in the U.S.