Biohaven Pharmaceuticals shows that its migraine drug Nurtec ODT can hold its own against AbbVies Ubrelvy’s Goliath competition.
Biohaven reported Monday that its oral CGRP drug now outperforms AbbVie’s competing drug when it comes to prescriptions for new brands or new patients who have never been given a branded drug for their severe headaches. According to Biohaven’s mid-July data, Nurtec ODT grabbed 56% of the market share versus 44.1% from Ubrelvy. This despite the fact that AbbVie had a huge head start.
Meanwhile, Nurtec’s market share in new brands has only grown since Biohaven’s drug received a major FDA award in May for preventing episodic migraines or less than 15 days of headache per month. Both drug makers are neck and neck when it comes to overall prescriptions, according to Biohaven, while AbbVie is still leading the sales race.
Vlad Coric, CEO of Biohaven, has been planning for years how the company would outmaneuver pharmaceutical heavyweight AbbVie and plan a “more efficient and innovative commercial launch” dual therapy for both acute and preventive use, Ubrelvy is currently limited to immediate treatment .
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AbbVie is eager to seek an FDA decision on another oral CGRP drug for the prevention of migraines known as atogepant, which is expected in September. Certainly, Ubrelvy still outperforms Nurtec ODT when it comes to total sales. AbbVie reported that its migraine drug grossed $ 126 million in the company’s second quarter, above Nurtec ODT’s $ 93 million.
In Biohaven’s eyes, however, the second quarter results show it is experiencing “the early stages of a real paradigm shift in migraine management” towards simpler drugs, Biohaven’s chief operating officer BJ Jones said on the company’s conference call on Monday.
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Some analysts seem to agree. For Biohaven, its Nurtec ODT has already achieved sales of almost 137 million US dollars this year, exceeding what analysts at Piper Sandler had expected according to a message to customers in July.
To date, the growth of the New Haven, Connecticut-based drug company has been largely driven by patients seeking immediate treatment rather than a preventative drug. Biohaven expects “a lot more” in the next quarter as it also generates demand for patients looking for preventive migraine treatments, Coric said.
Regardless of their competition, both Biohaven and AbbVie are confident that their oral CGRPs, with their over-competing triptans and injectable monoclonal antibodies, such as Aimovig from Amgen, Emgality from Eli Lilly and Ajovy from Teva Pharmaceuticals, will attract more patients.
AbbVie estimates that oral CGRPs account for approximately 18% of new prescriptions for the immediate treatment of migraines. That number “continues to grow very, very rapidly,” AbbVie’s chief operating officer Jeff Stewart told analysts in late July.