Novartis nabbed FDA approval for Kesimpta to treat multiple sclerosis last year, but now it’s getting the thumbs-up from MS patients and nurses.
Novartis presented study data at the sixth annual Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis Forum in late February showing 84% preferred Kesimpta’s self-administration injector pen over rival administration methods.
The kudos from a small, 130-participant study come as Novartis bids to make Kesimpta a first-treatment option. Kesimpta’s chief rival—Roche’s Ocrevus, which also works by targeting CD20-expressing B-cells—is an infusion treatment.
Conducted with 80 MS patients and 50 nurses in the U.S., Germany, France and Italy, the study shows nurses and patients want an easy-to-prepare self-injection they can use independently at home, Estelle Vester-Blokland, Novartis’ global head of neuroscience medical affairs, said.
The positive results should give nurses and patients “an extra level of confidence, especially if they’re new to Kesimpta,” she added.
Novartis had already signaled it’s ready to use Kesimpta's self-injection advantage to take on Ocrevus. Its first DTC advertising campaign, launched last month, keys in on MS problems that Kesimpta can help with such as unpredictable relapses and disability progression, but also time lost to infusion days.
In the Novartis study, Kesimpta scored well for independent patient use, easy to perform self-injection and ease of preparation and setup.
Kesimpta is delivered in a Sensoready pen, a Novartis-created technology used in similar pens for other portfolio drugs including Cosentyx and Erelzi.
Amy Perrin Ross, one of the nurses in the study, said in a press release, “As an MS nurse, it’s important for me to know that the people I work with who have MS are going to be successful in administering their treatment themselves.”
Kesimpta’s August approval came after the FDA initially extended its review by two months. Novartis first rolled out the drug directly to physicians in state-by-state digital efforts during the pandemic.
Sales of Kesimpta notched just $14 million in the fourth quarter, but Novartis executives told reporters in January that the slow start doesn't change its overall expectations for the med—it's still anticipating a market share grab of up to 40%.