Likely Delay for Janssen’s Sirukumab Sets up Head to Head Battle Between Roche/Genentech’s Actemra and Sanofi/Regeneron’s Kevzara in the US Rheumatoid Arthritis Market

Despite Kevzara’s aggressive pricing play, early launch metrics of the newest IL-6 inhibitor, indicate conservative uptake, according to Spherix Global Insight’s most recent quarterly update

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EXTON, Pa., Aug. 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Following an unfavorable recommendation from the FDA’s Arthritis Advisory Committee, it is unlikely that sirukumab will gain approval anytime in the near future. What was largely anticipated to be a three way battle amongst the IL-6 inhibitors, has narrowed to a head to head competition between Actemra and the newly launched Kevzara.

According to feedback gathered from 103 US rheumatologists, early adoption of Kevzara has been limited. Although the vast majority of rheumatologists do intend to incorporate Kevzara into their RA treatment paradigm, differentiation from the well-established Actemra will be critical for future success. As one US rheumatologist states, “Kevzara is the new kid on the block, regarded as a ‘me too’ drug. I do not see any difference from Actemra which has been around and is well established.” Indeed, when respondents directly compared Kevzara to Actemra SC, the two IL-6 inhibitors perform nearly identically, with more than 80% of rheumatologists rating the brands as equivalent for efficacy, onset of action, and monotherapy effectiveness.

Two things that can potentially tilt the scales in Kevzara’s favor are sales force effectiveness and a streamlined managed care approval process. With regard to the former, significantly more rheumatologists who reported contact with a Kevzara representative plan to trial the newest biologic within the next three months compared to those who have not seen a representative. In addition, if Sanofi/Regeneron are able to translate their aggressive pricing play into a formulary advantage over Actemra, uptake could be radically accelerated, as most rheumatologists report a strong willingness to prescribe Kevzara in place of Actemra if there is an economic benefit.

The next quarterly update, scheduled to field at the end of August, will continue to track the adoption of Kevzara and its impact on the existing RA market.

RealTime Dynamix: Rheumatoid Arthritis is an independent report series published on a quarterly basis. The series tracks the evolution of the RA market, provides a deep dive on launch effectiveness, and highlights opportunities for pipeline agents. The next wave of research will be fielded in August 2017.

About Spherix Global Insights
Spherix Global Insights is a business intelligence and market research company specializing in renal, autoimmune, neurologic and rare disease markets. We provide clients with strategic insights leveraged from our independent studies conducted with healthcare providers and other stakeholders.

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