Allergan's stellar Viberzi coverage bodes well for future launches: Analyst

Allergan

Some of Allergan’s key products are coming up against serious competition--meaning it’ll be up to the Dublin drugmaker’s new launches to keep the engine going strong. The way one analyst sees it, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Take Viberzi, the IBS-D drug that launched last December. The med--and a look at its formulary coverage--“demonstrates Allergan’s commercial prowess,” Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote recently in a note to clients. Less than 6 months after rolling out, Viberzi is inching up on Valeant rival Xifaxan when it comes to the percentage of lives with unrestricted access, which is “not a small feat” in today’s payer environment, he noted.

And things should still be on the up-and-up, he pointed out. “We suspect that given we are still in the first year post-launch, many of the commercial formularies restricting access to Viberzi may still be negotiating with Allergan,” he wrote. Part D coverage, which takes longer to take hold, should roll around next year, too.

So how did Allergan get payers to flock to its IBS-D-fighter? The company does have a good relationship with payers, Gal figures; 2014 buy Forest Labs always did, and Viberzi is one of its legacy products. Gal thinks the formulary successes go further, though: “We suspect Allergan provided some attractive commercial terms and maybe some maximum spend protection for the launch of the drug,” he wrote.

There’s also the possibility payers rushed to adopt Viberzi as an alternative to Xifaxan, given that embattled Valeant--under fire for price hikes--isn’t exactly a payer favorite.

No matter how Allergan snagged all that coverage, it’s a good thing for the company that it did, Gal points out. Key Alzheimer’s drug Namenda already has generic nemeses on the market, and blockbuster eye product Restasis could soon face competition from Shire dry-eye candidate lifitegrast.

Special Report: Top 10 animated characters in pharma marketing - Xifaxan Gut Guy - Valeant

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