Acorda's sales team switches gears to push crucial Parkinson's launch Inbrija

True to its word, Acorda has moved its entire salesforce over from generics-plagued Ampyra to new Parkinson’s launch Inbrija. But it’s not relying solely on that team to get the ball rolling.

To get the word out on Inbrija, the company will be doing “journal advertisements and the usual,” Acorda CEO Ron Cohen said in an interview. But targeting online, both on the healthcare provider and patient sides, is “the larger part of our effort.”

The Ardsley, NY-based drugmaker is also fielding a “multichannel educational program that will continue to grow and expand over the coming weeks and months,” Cohen said. It will build on the disease awareness work Acorda has been doing for the last couple years, including a popular Facebook group dubbed, “The Many Faces of OFF,” which references the so-called “off periods” that Inbrija treats and “gives the community a place to connect and share stories and experiences,” Cohen said.

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Acorda also runs a website titled, “Live Well. Do Tell” that it started last March with input from healthcare providers, patients, care partners and advocacy groups. Cohen called the site “kind of a manual on how to improve the communication among these different parties.”

Right now, that communication “is not adequate” and is “actually missing an awful lot of what’s actually going on in the lives of these people with Parkinson’s,” he said. The website serves, in part, as a guide to which questions HCPs and patients “should be asking and what they should be listening for” during office visits and phone calls.

The website is also home to “Framing OFF Through Art,” a just-launched initiative that matches patients with artists who also have a connection to the disease. “They’re using art to articulate that conversation,” Tierney Saccavino, Acorda SVP of corporate communications, said. More art pieces will be hitting the site in the next month and throughout the year.

“They connect on what the emotional impact of the disease is in a way I haven’t seen anywhere else,” Cohen said.

Meanwhile, Acorda has just shy of 90 reps already on the ground promoting Inbrija, with a dozen or so regional directors and larger area directors backing them up. The salesforce deployed last week with demo kits to educate Parkinson’s movement disorder offices on Inbija’s label and how to use the drug properly in advance of the product actually hitting the channel, which will happen later this quarter, Cohen said.

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Acorda also has reimbursement directors out in the field answering questions and clearing roadblocks, along with various other communications specialists and medical science liaisons. Altogether, the sales ranks number about 125, and they’ll be working hard to pump up sales after what’s been a tough time for the company in the wake of its Ampyra patent loss.

“It was critical that we have another product that we can sell and generate revenue to replace what was lost with Ampyra,” Cohen said, adding that Ampyra’s sales were also funding Acorda’s R&D investment.