Are DTC ads tipping the balance in psoriasis battle between Lilly’s Taltz and Novartis’ Cosentyx?

Eli Lilly’s aggressive Taltz DTC advertising seems to be giving the new-to-market drug a boost in the next-generation psoriasis drug battle against Novartis' Cosentyx.

While analyst Lynn Price was careful to note that Taltz and Cosentyx market share should eventually stabilize, a new report from her firm Spherix Global Insights indicates the Taltz DTC campaign is having an early impact on uptake of the drug.

“In just one quarter, from Q3 to Q4, the percent of dermatologists receiving a patient request for Taltz tripled,” she said in an email interview with FiercePharma. “What is important is that 43% of the patient inquiries resulted in a prescription for Taltz. I do not think that it is a coincidence that this significant bump in requests occurred directly post-launch of Lilly’s direct to consumer campaign.”

Lilly has spent more than $21 million on TV advertising for Taltz since launching the campaign in late September, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker Novartis has a longer running ad campaign Cosentyx that has tallied $75 million in TV ad spending since launching in January, according to iSpot data. 

The bigger long-term gain, however, will be for both IL-17 drugs as they ultimately snatch market share from TNF inhibitors, said Price, who heads immunology at intelligence provider Spherix. Amgen’s Enbrel and AbbVie’s Humira are the principle market share losers, Spherix noted, but Taltz and Cosentyx have also contributed to a flattening of Janssen’s Stelara.

“By next spring, prescribers will have ample time to sufficiently trial both Cosentyx and Taltz and gain comfort with each agent. For the most part, U.S. dermatologists view Cosentyx and Taltz as very similar; so with increased exposure and familiarity, they most likely anticipate a leveling of the playing field,” Price said. 

The next question though, is whether the two meds be able to hold that expected lead. More IL-17 inhibitors to treat psoriasis are expected to win FDA approval, including Valeant’s proposed Siliq, which received an FDA advisory board recommendation in July,—although the committee was split on the risk management of the proposed drug due to reported suicides.

While two-thirds of dermotologists said the suicide risk is a “huge deterrent” to prescribing the drug, Price said, still about half agreed that if Valeant prices aggressively and it is cheaper than Taltz and Cosentynx, they will prescribe it ahead of the others.

Other competitors further down the pipeline and requiring a wait-and-see approach include an IL-23 inhibitor prospect that J&J's Janssen, Boehringer Ingelhiem and AbbVie are developing together and one from Merck and Sun Pharma, who are also working together.