Adempas maker Bayer connects hypertension patients with new mentoring group

Bayer markets Adempas to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension and chronic thromboembolic hypertension. (Bayer)

While support from drug companies can be helpful for patients, sometimes support from others struggling with a disease can be even more helpful. So Bayer is offering both.

The German drugmaker recently rolled out myMentor, a peer-to-peer support program for adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) or chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH). Through the program’s website, patients who either haven’t yet received a treatment prescription or who have started therapy but have questions about the condition can speak confidentially with a longtime patient.

The website contains photos of the mentors as well as info on how long they’ve been living with their diseases, and new patients can sort mentors by condition, gender and age range. Once they’ve selected a mentor, they can click through to view the mentor’s full profile and schedule a call.

“Being diagnosed with a rare, progressive and debilitating disease can be confusing and even frightening for some patients despite guidance from their healthcare provider,” Aleksandra Vlajnic, M.D., Bayer VP of medical affairs, said in a statement, adding, “Our hope is that myMentor will provide an additional layer of support and emotional reassurance.”

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Bayer counts on the PAH and CTEPH markets for sales of Adempas, a drug approved to treat both conditions that, alongside eye drug Eylea, cancer meds Stivarga and Xofigo, and next-gen blood thinner Xarelto, makes up Bayer’s group of growth products. But the med faces stiff competition from PAH specialist Actelion, a Swiss drugmaker whose marketed meds Johnson & Johnson snapped up last year.

Adempas hasn’t quite lived up to what some industry-watchers initially expected. In 2016, Bayer nixed a trial of the product in PAH patients with idiopathic interstitial pneumonias thanks to what an independent data monitoring committee cited as a potential increased risk of death, and that move scuttled hopes for a label expansion. And in the fourth quarter of last year, its sales came in below expectations.

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Things seemed to turn around a bit in the first quarter, with the drug posting 11% year-over-year growth and meeting consensus estimates. But unfortunately for Bayer, it couldn’t say the same for its cancer-fighters, which put up year-over-year declines.