Got MS? Have a Free Lunch on Novartis

Got MS? Have a Free Lunch on Novartis

May 2nd, 2013 // 12:43 pm @

Updated Daily – Read our latest FDA, cGMP Compliance News

It looks like the fight for a share of the market for multiple sclerosis drugs is getting hot. Biogen Idec launched its Tecfidera drug recently for the disease, and there has been a shocking 125% increase in prescriptions in only 14 days. Now Novartis is trying to attract multiple sclerosis patients with free lunch offers.

Novartis, which as been having a lot of quality problems lately, sells Gilenya, which is the top rival multiple sclerosis treatment. The company is sponsoring a luncheon this week in Newark NJ at a local restaurant. There a neurologist is booked to talk about treatment options for the disease. The event will have what it terms a ‘light lunch’ for as many as 50 people. Novartis says that this will be a chance to interact with people in their community who have MS.

And this is only one of several events that Novartis will be doing in this vein in the next few weeks around the US. There also will be meals promoting Gilenya in California and Massachusetts. The company obviously is concerned about losing market share to Biogen Idec. Even though that new drug just launched, many experts in finance and in the drug industry think the new drug will be able to get as much as $6 billion in sales each year.

Tecfidera is getting a lot of interest with patients with MS because clinical trials are showing that it is more effective in cutting down relapses and slowing the progress of the disability than other drugs, such as Rebif, Avonext and Betaseron. Clinical trial data shows that Tecfidera cut the average rate of relapse by 50% after 24 months.

Also, note that Biogen priced its drug under Gilenya. The wholesale price average for Tecfidera is $54,800, while it is $58,000 for Gilenya. It is not clear yet if the Tecfidera sales boom will continue as it is so new. But it indeed looks very promising both for Biogen Idec and for sufferers of MS.

We find it interesting that now that it is discouraged for drug companies to offer free goodies to doctors, Novartis is pretty much doing the same thing with patients.

Novartis has been suffering from some serious cGMP problems of late. No doubt they are trying to increase company profits by pushing this new, promising drug.


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