Allergan counting on January formulary boost to jump-start Namzaric launch

When a U.S. appeals court nixed Allergan's plans to force Namenda patients over to a new, patent-protected version before generics arrived, the company assured investors that everything would be fine. Its new combo med Namzaric was on the horizon, and it would unlock a market segment worth some $2 billion.

Allergan CEO Brent Saunders

So far, though, Namzaric is "a little slow out of the box," as Leerink Partners analyst Jason Gerberry put it on last week's Q3 conference call. So what's going on?

"Most of the formulary coverage" for the drug--which pairs Namenda with Eisai's Aricept--will start in January "because of the Medicare Part D part of this equation," CEO Brent Saunders said on the call. Allergan's ($AGN) own Namzaric expectations are a little higher after reimbursement kicks in than they are now, he said.

And Bill Meury, the drugmaker's president of branded pharma, reminded investors that "Namzaric isn't quite a sprint" but rather "a good, steady jog." The drug's September DTC campaign--featuring an emotionally charged spot about a woman caring for her mother, who's an Alzheimer's patient--needs some time to gain traction, he said.

Allergan EVP Bill Meury

Going forward, Meury said he expects Allergan's Alzheimer's business--which also includes Namenda's long-acting successor Namenda XR--to grow. Formulary coverage through the end of this year and into next year is "as high as it's been" for Namenda XR, helping keep that med "very stable" despite the Namenda IR generics that rolled out in July. But it's Namzaric he sees accounting for an increasingly larger percentage of the business for one simple reason.

"It's a better product," he told investors. "If you look at the data, two drugs is better than one, and I think it will take us just a little bit of time to move this category."

- read the call transcript
- watch the DTC ad

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