Biohaven Pharmaceuticals was confident that its oral migraine drug, Nurtec ODT, could shake the market as the only FDA-cleared option for the prevention and treatment of recurring headaches. Now, after a few months of sales, the CGRP player seems to be on the right track.
Biohaven reported Wednesday that Nurtec ODT, also known as Rimegepant, had revenue of $ 93 million in the second quarter, a whopping 112% increase from the previous quarter. That dwarfed the roughly $ 54.7 million expected by Wall Street and caused the shares of the New Haven, Connecticut-based drug maker to soar more than 12% to $ 111 on Wednesday afternoon.
This is the first quarterly report since the drug received a major award from the FDA in May for preventing episodic migraines or headaches less than 15 days per month. Nurtec ODT is the first oral anti-CGRP drug approved for preventive migraine treatment and the only dual therapy for both acute and preventive use.
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Given both indications, CEO Vlad Coric predicted that Biohaven’s 75 mg pill would disrupt the existing injectable antibody treatment landscape, which includes Amgen’s Aimovig, Eli Lilly’s Emgality and Teva Pharmaceuticals’ Ajovy.
Given the option, patients would likely move away from an injectable or intranasal drug and into oral CGRP therapy, Coric said earlier this year. Biohaven’s pill, which comes in a pack of eight, can be taken up to once a day to stop migraines. It can also be taken every other day to help prevent pain and reduce the number of attacks per month.
So far, Biohaven has counted more than 750,000 Nurtec ODT prescriptions since the drug was launched last year, the company announced on Wednesday, an increase of 50% compared to April. These numbers show that the oral CGRPs have “significant traction,” Piper Sandler analysts wrote in a customer note.
Not to mention the late-stage dates of Biohaven’s intranasal zavegepant for the immediate treatment of migraines. Against this background, Biohaven is developing into an “important migraine player”, said the analysts.
The investment bank expected Nurtec ODT to write sales of 274 million this year. Piper Sandler did not provide an updated figure.
By comparison, Lilly’s best-selling migraine drug, Emgality, had sales of $ 362 million last year. Lilly recently announced plans to measure its monthly injectable against Nurtec ODT in a head-to-head study in patients with episodic migraines.
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This study, slated to begin later this year, will be the first between the two treatments and could help fill an information gap that both clinicians and providers need when deciding on treatments, Lilly executives told Fierce in June Pharma.
But Biohaven’s Coric didn’t mince his words when it came to Lilly’s challenge, calling it “a competitive move by a company with an injectable drug to keep market share”.
Of course, at some point Biohaven will face competition from other oral therapies. The FDA is also reviewing an oral drug from AbbVie known as atogepant for the preventive treatment of migraines. This pill is taken every day.