From where Allergan’s sitting, forthcoming uterine fibroid treatment Esmya could become a flagship product. But the company knows that getting it there won’t be easy—or cheap.
For one, there’s going to be “a lot of education required” to make Esmya successful, company commercial chief Bill Meury said in an interview. Currently, there are no FDA-approved treatments for uterine fibroids, and Allergan’s research suggests that many women living with the condition aren’t aware of treatment options.
“They’re employing various coping strategies, or just normalizing symptoms,” Meury said.
Allergan, though, is up for the task. The product is going to get “a great deal of investment,” starting with backing from a women’s health field force of roughly 300 representatives—an army Meury said is one of, if not the, largest in the industry. They’ll call on 20,000 OB-GYNs nationwide, and that’s where Allergan things its “excellent relationships” with OB-GYNs around the country will come into play.
“They know us and we know them,” thanks to oral contraceptive Lo Loestrin and estrogen replacement product Estrace, Meury said. “Esmya will fit right into that group.”
The company is also plotting a branded DTC campaign that will put Esmya “front and center,” Meury said, and that effort will include TV, print and social media components.
And on the unbranded side, Allergan has already kicked off its marketing activities. Over the summer, it lent its financial support to the White Dress Project, an organization focused on driving uterine fibroid research and education, to expand recognition of July as Uterine Fibroid Awareness Month. It also launched a video series detailing patient stories.
While Allergan may have high hopes for Esmya—it’s pegged the product as a potential blockbuster—analysts aren’t so sure it can hit those marks. As Barclays’ Doug Tsao wrote early this year, regulators may restrict Esmya’s patient population only to women eligible for fibroid surgery. It also remains to be seen whether the FDA will restrict dosing of the once-daily treatment to two cycles.
And there’s competition coming, too. AbbVie and Neurocrine Biosciences are developing phase 3 candidate elagolix for the condition, though as Meury figures, there’s room for both.
“Pharmacologically and clinically, elagolix and Esmya are different. I believe they’ll be used in different populations, and I believe that the two compounds can coexist in the market,” he said. “Given the fact that the diagnosis and treatment rate is so low, our view is, the more treatment options that are FDA approved over the next year or two, the better the outcomes will be for physicians and patients in managing this condition.”