No sweat? Dermira snags reps, sets price and plots branded ads for Qbrexza launch

Dermira awareness TV ad for hyperhydrosis
Dermira's currently running unbranded advertising to raise awareness about hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, will run concurrently with branded ads in the works. (Dermira)

Dermira's multimillion-dollar awareness campaign has been working for months to prep the ground for Qbrexza, its drug for excessive sweating set to launch Oct. 1. Now, with a staffed-up sales force and a multichannel branded campaign in the works, the company is talking dollars and cents.

Qbrexza cloths, designed to stave off excessive underarm sweating, will cost $550 for a 30-day supply, Dermira said on Wednesday, and the company's already promising not to raise the price through 2019. Two top payers have agreed to cover the drug from the get-go, the company said.

Meanwhile, a branded marketing campaign is already in the works, with a planned launch during the second quarter of 2019, said Lori Lyons-Williams, chief commercial officer of Dermira, in an email. She said the new effort will include TV, digital, print and social in a full multimedia campaign.

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At least part of the time, the branded work will run concurrently with Dermira's unbranded campaign called "Check Your Sweat" that began running in June, about a week after Qbrexza won FDA approval to treat hyperhidrosis under the arms. In the TV ad, actors pin their arms at their sides to hide the telltale puddles of armpit sweat soaking through their shirts. The awareness push will continue at least through mid-2019, Lyons-Williams said.

Thanks to the awareness-building, Dermira now has 93,000 people with hyperhidrosis registered for its consumer relationship database, and more than 850,000 people have taken the assessment quiz, she said.

Dermira so far has spent more than $13.9 million on national TV media buys for the awareness ad, according to data from real-time TV ad tracker iSpot.tv. The pharma also works with celebrity spokesperson Cameran Eubanks, a reality TV star on "Southern Charm" and sufferer of excessive sweating, to raise awareness. She shares her personal story and offers tips on how she manages her condition on the "Check Your Sweat" website and in social media.

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Pharmacy benefits managers Express Scripts and Optum Rx have agreed to cover Qbrexza at launch, and Dermira continues to negotiate with insurers in hopes of hitting 50% coverage by the beginning of 2019. Dermira has hired 112 sales reps, 14 division business managers and two regional business directors to introduce Qbrexza to healthcare providers. Ray Bassi, who joined Dermira after 19 years at Allergan, will lead the sales team as VP.

Dermira has also established a patient access program, DermiraConnect, to offer a savings card for commercially insured patients so that they would pay no more than $35 per month, and for uninsured or underinsured patients to pay no more than $70 per month.

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Input from patients "helped us to design, refine and deliver a robust access program to meet their needs,” Lyons-Williams said in a statement. “We believe our approach will support broad and affordable access to Qbrexza for the patients who need it.”

Dermira is looking for additional indications for Qbrexza beyond excessive underarm sweating, Lyons-Williams told FiercePharmaMarketing in June, potentially for those who suffer from hyperhidrosis on the hands, feet and face. Qbrexza is Dermira’s first FDA nod, although the pharma has other skin drugs in its pipeline, including a phase 2 drug in atopic dermatitis—an IL-13 inhibitor called lebrikizumab—with data expected at the beginning of 2019.