Amgen puts Kyprolis patient stories at the heart of new awareness push

Screenshot from one of the patient videos from Kyprolis Central

Three years after Amgen snapped up Kyprolis in its Onyx Pharmaceuticals buyout, the multiple myeloma drug is still falling short of early sales expectations, despite solid growth--and now, it's facing a host of new multiple myeloma competitors. Now, Amgen's counting on Kyprolis patients to arm up for that market-share fight.

Late last week, the Big Biotech rolled out  Kyprolis Central, a new online resource highlighting the difficulties of living with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma. The effort provides real-life stories from relapsed myeloma sufferers--of whom have been treated with Kyprolis, of course--along with educational materials and other resources, Amgen said.

Helping patients lean on other patients is one of the goals. "In my opinion, one of the most difficult parts of living with multiple myeloma is the uncertainty. Relapse is always in the back of my mind," one patient said in a statement. "I've found that talking to others helps me cope with this uncertainty, and I hope that sharing my story publicly will generate more awareness and help others navigating relapsed multiple myeloma."

Kyprolis Central is just the company’s latest attempt to connect its patients to one another; Amgen already helps Kyprolis patients get in touch with other sufferers through a network of independent third-party organizations as part of its patient support program. That program--dubbed Onyx Pharmaceuticals 360, after the drug’s pre-Amgen-buyout maker--also provides Kyprolis users with nurses who support patients and caregivers based on their particular needs, according to the California drugmaker.

If the new initiative were to help spread the word on the drug and translate into a broader patient base, Amgen certainly wouldn’t complain. Sales still aren’t where the company hoped they would be when it shelled out big money on Onyx back in 2013. Last March, Amgen said it would shutter the old Onyx campus and cut more than 300 jobs there as it folded Onyx's oncology operations--including Kyprolis reps--into Amgen's own business.

The trio of newly approved myeloma contenders won’t make it any easier to boost sales. At least so far, though, Kyprolis has been able to stand its ground against the newcomers, commercial EVP Tony Hooper told investors on the company’s Q1 conference call. “I see the newer entrants with very slow single-digit market shares and predominantly being used in fourth-line plus,” he said at the time.

And while that won’t necessarily last forever, there’s plenty of market share to go around, Craig Tendler, VP of late-stage development and global medical affairs for oncology and hematology at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, told FiercePharma at this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. J&J's own myleoma med Darzalex was approved last November.

“Many of these patients will go through many of these regimens; the nature of this disease is multiple relapses,” he said. "The more options you have, especially in upfront and high-risk patients … the more likely we’ll be able to achieve the outcomes.”

- read Amgen's release

Special Reports: Pharma's top 10 M&A deals of 2013 - Amgen/Onyx | Top 15 drug launch superstars - Kyprolis - Onyx Pharmaceuticals

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