MannKind eyeing inhalable epinephrine market in wake of Mylan EpiPen controversy

Drugmaker MannKind ($MNKD), which continues to slog through a sluggish market for its inhalable insulin Afrezza, is looking to possibly take its device into the epinephrine market in the wake of the price controversy swirling around Mylan’s EpiPen.

The California-based company’s strategy is focused on bringing more competition to the  emergency epinephrine market that has been dominated by Mylan’s increasingly expensive EpiPen. MannKind is proposing to offer allergy sufferers a needle-free option, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Although an inhalable version of epinephrine has possibilities, it would be a long road to get through FDA approval and market the product for a company that is strapped for cash. Earlier this year, Sanofi ($SNY) announced it was ending its partnership with MannKind following a year of dismal sales of Afrezza, which analysts had originally pegged to be around $600 million in sales.

Afrezza never came close. Reports said MannKind shipped more than $17 million worth of the products, while Sanofi recorded only about $5 million in sales. The disappointing numbers has left MannKind in a financial lurch.

To get an inhalable epinephrine to market “would be a difficult process,” Joel Hay, a professor of pharmaceutical economics and policy at the University of Southern California told the Times. “I don’t know if MannKind has the time and funding resources for that.” 

“There’s a lot of interest in (EpiPen) alternatives,” Matthew Pfeffer, MannKind’s CEO, told the newspaper. “It’s not inconceivable that we could get a partner to help us with the funding of that trial. That’s not our current game plan, but it’s something we could consider.” 

The company began working on inhalable epinephrine a year ago, and although there is no price point for the device if fully developed and approved, Pfeffer said it would almost certainly cost less than an EpiPen.

The company is also working on developing two other inhalable drugs that would treat nausea for patients going through chemotherapy and to treat the cardiovascular disease, pulmonary arterial hypertension.

- check out the LA Times story

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