BullBear Partners

The Covid-19 pandemic has negatively impacted society in numerous sectors. BioTech is no exception and has also been impacted negatively. The recent lockdown phases and an extensive focus on finding vaccine of COVID-19 have delayed the launching of many drugs. Drugmakers predict that the current pandemic will also disrupt the marketing process. That was the main reason for the postponing of new drugs. For example, drug makers have delayed the launches of drugs of Parkinson’s disease and treatments for peanut allergy. 

The list is COVID-19 delayed drug launches is long. Bristol Myers Squibb has postponed launched of their long-waited drug named Zeposia. The drug is helpful for multiple sclerosis. Novartis’ repurposed Ofatumumab launch was also delayed due to the recent conditions. Moreover, at the beginning of 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved more than 30 new medicines. To date at least 5 of these medicine drug makers have postponed their launching dates. Neurocrine Biosciences, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Bristol Myers Squibb, Aimmune, Sanofi are some of the examples of these companies.

These companies are waiting for new normal as COVID-19 has disrupted the normal lifestyle worldwide. There are many rational reasons for delaying in releasing drugs. Firstly, the launching of any drug is a complicated and expensive process. Secondly, the process of coordinating supplies and treatment with pharmacies and clinics can be disrupted for the fast-spreading of the recent pandemic of COVID-19. For making a drug successful, coordinating supplies and treatment with pharmacies and clinics are the two most important processes.

However, the delaying can cause more than $1 billion loss for these companies in combined. These companies viewed that drugs of less severe diseases will be delayed most. As mentioned before, the extensive concentration towards finding COVID-19 drugs and vaccines also causes a delay in releasing new drugs of other diseases. For example, Neurocrine Chief Executive Kevin Gorman reported that many neurologists are now busy to reduce the active cases of the current pandemic. This causes delaying Ongentys. Another example is Palforzia, Aimmune’s sole approved drug which has been delayed until later this year. The company also decided to halt new hiring until the same period at least. Similarly, the company is expecting to get the ‘new normal’ situation at some point in late summer. In the coming month, the FDA will review the schedule of releasing half a dozen new drugs. This includes drug of Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. that is expected for the patients of a group of genetic disorders. Moreover, Endo’s skin-treatment Xiaflex is on the list. However, these drugmakers are also expecting to release at the end of this year.  

The process of approving treatments for patients has been slowed down as many doctors offices are not running normally. However, some companies are trying different marketing tactics that comply with social distancing norms. They are using telemedicine, DTC, social media and webinars to communicate with patients and doctors. Biohaven Pharmaceuticals is an example of this. The drug was being sold as Nurtec ODT in the early days. Biohaven’s Nurtec ODT is used for treatment for migraine. Meanwhile, Spherix Global released an important insight from their survey. The company found that almost 25% of the neurologists were not interested to prescribe a migraine therapy. Hence, Biohaven’s Nurtec ODT selling volume is expected to reduce in the near future. The constantly changing environment in the current scenario of the pandemic can further discourage the drug makers. Hence, we can also expect a delay in releasing new drugs for this factor. 

While the list of postponed launching of drugs is long, some of these drugs have yet to release a release date. For example, Roche’s oral spinal muscular atrophy drug risdiplam has not been released earlier. The approval date was postponed before May. Another reason for delaying the launching these drugs are lack of potential inspection structure at present. For example, delay in the case of Gilead Sciences and Galapagos’ JAK inhibitor filgotinib. On the other hand, many important members of top-level management of Big Biotech have been infected from coronavirus. Hence, the regulatory filing process was delayed for the company. Hence, controversial Alzheimer’s contender aducanumab will take more time to release. Besides these drugs, NASH candidate obeticholid has already been rescheduled for months. However, the company sells this drug for another indication as Ocaliva.

Physicians and patients should be educated before using some new drugs. Neurocrine BiosciencesIngrezza is an example of this. Neurocrine Biosciences’ Ingrezza treats the non-life-threatening condition of tardive dyskinesia but the drug is highly sensitive to sales details. In the current situation, such education efforts are not possible. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the process of approving treatments has been slowed down especially in the USA. Secondly, the quantity of prescriptions across the board has fallen. This is because the offices of doctors are closed for non-emergency business. This is also one of the major discouraging factors to drug makers. Alnylam’s Green thinks that due to slowing down of approving treatment and closure of doctors’ offices, it is impossible to run the treatment process as before. Hence, the drug makers are delaying their launching date for these two reasons also. For the same reasons, Orilissa, which Neurocrine discovered and licensed to AbbVie may benefit from the situation as a patient who refrains from visiting hospitals may turn to oral me for their endometriosis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *