Phathom launches GI education effort aimed at doctors in advance of vonoprazan's FDA submissions

Treating the gastrointestinal disease H. pylori is difficult and confusing, even for healthcare pros.

Phathom Pharmaceuticals wants them to "rethink" stomach acid with a new awareness push explaining the tricky balance among acid suppression, antibiotics and H. pylori eradication.

The effort comes as Phathom preps two vonoprazan-based regimens for FDA submission to treat H. pylori. Phathom licenses vonoprazan from Takeda and already markets the drug in Japan and several other countries.

Phathom's new GI website, tackles declining rates of H. pylori eradication, posing the question: “Is inadequate acid suppression to blame?” The effort is aimed at doctors on the front line of H. pylori treatment, including gastroenterologists, advanced practice providers and primary care physicians.

Besides the website, Phathom created a virtual basecamp-style booth to coincide with the Digestive Disease Week virtual conference, where the nascent biopharmaceutical unit made its official debut. The virtual booth features a communication center, medical information tent and directions for “new thinking on acid suppression.” 

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Treating H. pylori is most effective if the bacteria are replicating—a pH level of 6 to 8 is optimum—because that's when antibiotics can best kill the pathogen. The current treatment with PPIs is exceptionally pill-heavy and complex with low adherence rates; studies show 1 in 5 patients fail initial therapy.

“It was really uncovering the level of unmet need—just the lack of education or awareness of the role of an anti-secretory agent in the eradication of H. pylori, even amongst physicians and people that treat the disease,” Phathom CEO Terrie Curran said.

H. pylori is estimated to infect more than 200 million people in the U.S. and Europe. While it's inactive in most people, ongoing infections can lead to serious gastric issues including gastric adenocarcinoma.

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Phathom’s vonoprazan is a potassium-competitive acid blocker labeled as a new class of anti-secretory to treat GI disorders.

Vonoprazan notched positive clinical results last month, and the company plans to file its two FDA approval applications by the end of the year, Curran said

“We'll also read out the data of our pHalcon EE phase 3 trial. Then we're also doing a phase 2 non-erosive program, and all of these disease areas are where there hasn't been any innovation," she said. "So we're just really excited to move those programs forward and hopefully bring some new innovation into this new-innovation starved category."

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story described Phathom as part of Takeda. Takeda licenses vonoprazan to Phathom and owns a small stake in the company.