'Unprecedented' switching success gives Alexion hope in backstopping sales of blockbuster Soliris

Alexion's Soliris notched impressive sales growth in the third quarter despite an aggressive switching campaign. (Alexion)

Alexion scored a major win in its campaign to switch patients off blockbuster Soliris to follow-up drug Ultomiris with a second FDA approval earlier this week. That nod should help Ultomiris continue to gobble up patients—and it’s already ahead of plan, execs said Wednesday.

The majority of patients previously taking Soliris for paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH)—51% as of this week— have now switched over to Ultomiris, putting the successor drug well on its way to reaching a 70% U.S. conversion rate in that indication by mid-2020.

And in the meantime, Soliris itself is turning in big growth numbers, thanks to its own expansion into new indications.


Using AI and RWD to Uncover Rare Disease Insights, Accelerate Commercialization and Improve Patient Outcomes

Wednesday, March 24 | 2pm ET / 11am PT

Learn how IPM.ai transformed real world data into real world insights to assist Audentes in their development of AT132 for the treatment of XLMTM. The session reviews how IPM.ia and Audentes collaborated to uncover the XLMTM patient population.

In a third-quarter earnings call Wednesday, Alexion R&D chief John Orloff said the drugmaker had made “unprecedented progress” in switching patients to the newer med and highlighted conversion rates in Germany and Japan that have outstripped that in the U.S.

In Germany, 45% of PNH patients on Soliris had switched to Ultomiris as of Monday—around three months ahead of the time Ultomiris took to hit the same milestone in the U.S. In Japan, where Ultomiris was approved in PNH in June, more than 15% of patients have already switched over.

With Ultomiris’ FDA approval to treat atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) earlier this week, Alexion continues to position the drug well to pick up the expected slack when Soliris starts facing biosimilar competitors after 2023.

RELATED: Alexion scores 2nd FDA nod for Soliris successor drug as switching campaign continues