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Survey: One Month After Launch, Over Half of U.S. Neurologists Prescribe Tecfidera (Dimethyl Fumarate) for Their MS Patients

Early trial rate surpasses that of Gilenya and Aubagio (July 11)

BioTrends Research Group, a research and advisory firm specializing in biopharmaceutical issues, finds that, despite being the third oral disease-modifying therapy (DMT) to launch in the U.S. multiple sclerosis (MS) market, 53% of surveyed U.S. neurologists have prescribed Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate, Biogen Idec) to at least one of their MS patients after only 1 month on the market. This rate for Tecfidera surpasses that for Gilenya (fingolimod, Novartis) (19%), the first-to-market oral DMT, and Aubagio (teriflunomide, Genzyme) (16%), the second-to-market oral DMT, at the same stage of product launch.

Data from the recently published report suggest that this impressive physician trial rate is likely to continue to grow over the coming months, with nearly all surveyed neurologists anticipating at least some Tecfidera prescribing among their DMT-treated patients with relapsing–remitting MS (RRMS) over the next 6 months. Coupled with this expansion in prescriber base, the Tecfidera patient share among DMT-treated RRMS patients is anticipated to increase significantly from 2% to 15%, beating that projected for Aubagio (4%) and Gilenya (6%) by November 2013.

The report points out that, given the previous dominance of injectable DMTs in the MS market, it is not surprising that neurologists identify Tecfidera’s oral formulation as being one of its main advantages, similar to the attitudes observed with the launches of Aubagio and Gilenya. However, the report finds that early Tecfidera trial and uptake may be driven more by neurologists’ comfort with Tecfidera’s safety profile and positive efficacy perceptions — together with the low monitoring burden required with Tecfidera treatment, especially compared with other oral DMTs — than by its mode of administration.

Nevertheless, the report also suggests that the upward trend in Tecfidera prescribing may be hampered by managed care issues, with neurologists recalling that up to one-quarter of Tecfidera prescriptions required proof of failure on a previous DMT despite the fact that Tecfidera’s label does not include any line restrictions. During interviews, a subset of Tecfidera prescribers expressed frustration in the time taken for patients to receive the drug, with neurologists suggesting that delays may be due, in part, to preauthorization requirements with managed care companies.

Source: BioTrends Research Group; July 11, 2013.

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