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Survey: U.S. Rheumatologists Embrace Xeljanz (Tofacitinib) After Label Change

Nearly 80% say drug is superior to methotrexate

Decision Resources Group, a health care research firm located in Burlington, Mass., finds that the FDA’s approval of the supplemental new drug application for Xeljanz (tofacitinib citrate, Pfizer) in February 2014 to include the reduction of radiographic progression of structural joint damage has had a positive effect on U.S. rheumatologists’ perceptions of this treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

More than three-quarters of surveyed rheumatologists indicated a moderate to substantial effect of the labeling extension of Xeljanz to include the inhibition of structural damage. Further, nearly 80% of surveyed physicians believed that Xeljanz is superior to methotrexate with regard to its ability to inhibit structural progression in patients with RA.

At 18 months after the launch of Xeljanz, all surveyed rheumatologists reported awareness of the treatment, and virtually all (99%) had moderate to high familiarity with the drug.

Eighteen months after the launch of Xeljanz, most of the surveyed rheumatologists (92%) were users. Prescribers of Xeljanz had already initiated the product in an average of 13 patients. Most of the Xeljanz prescribers (93%) rated the product with moderate to high satisfaction.

Nearly 80% of surveyed rheumatologists indicated that the greatest advantage of Xeljanz is that it is administered orally. Between one-fifth to more than one-quarter of rheumatologists cited the unique mechanism of action of Xeljanz as a JAK inhibitor as a main advantage of the product.

Cost and insurance coverage were considered the greatest disadvantages of Xeljanz by approximately one-third of rheumatologists. Safety and side effects were considered the second greatest disadvantage of Xeljanz by just under one-fifth of the surveyed rheumatologists.

“Over the past 18 months of tracking Pfizer’s Xeljanz launch, we have seen significant increases in the Xeljanz user and patient base, as well as physician-rated familiarity, initial reaction, and interest in and satisfaction with the product,” said analyst Lynn Price. “It appears that at 18 months post-launch, surveyed rheumatologists have become quite comfortable with prescribing the RA treatment, and the small molecule appears to be finding its place in the RA treatment algorithm.”

Source: BioTrends Research Group; August 18, 2014.

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