AZ counts on inhaler tech to boost respiratory newcomer Bevespi

Sure, the U.S. respiratory market already boasts a couple of LAMA/LABA combo drugs. But with AstraZeneca’s ($AZN) new approval, it thinks it can stand apart from the competition.

On Monday, the FDA green-lighted Bevespi Aerosphere for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Like products from GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Boehringer Ingelheim, it’s a dual bronchodilator, meant to both keep airways open and cut down on the amount of mucus they produce. But Bevespi is also the first treatment to use AstraZeneca's new co-suspension technology, which helps keep dosing consistent for combo drugs in a single inhaler.

AZ will need some kind of marketing play if it wants to break into a field that has given its rivals fits. After GlaxoSmithKline suffered through a slower-than-expected launch for its competitor, Anoro Ellipta, Boehringer Ingelheim launched its Stiolto Respimat with the expectation that payer arm-twisting may make pricing tough.

AstraZeneca does know a thing or two about how to navigate the U.S. payer landscape with its respiratory meds, given that increased payer pressure isn’t unique to LAMA/LABAs. Over the past couple of years, AstraZeneca jumped in to capitalize on the squeeze payers had put on GSK giant Advair, snapping up market share and preferred formulary status for its Symbicort--only to see payers flock back to Advair after Glaxo offered discounts.

AstraZeneca is on a quest to boost sales in its respiratory unit, key to the lofty revenue numbers CEO Pascal Soriot promised in an effort to evade a 2014 Pfizer buyout. And the company isn’t stopping with its co-suspension tech. It’s also applying it to “a range” of inhaled cocktail therapies in its pipeline, including a fixed-dose triple combo of LAMA/LABA/inhaled corticosteroid.

- read the release 

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