Allergan goes up against laser therapy with new rosacea treatment Rhofade

Allergan's new facial redness treatment, Rhofade, is one of 11 new products the company expects to combine for $5 billion in peak sales.

Allergan officially has its first FDA approval of the year in hand with rosacea treatment Rhofade. But if it wants to get the product pumping, it may have to snag share from laser treatments.

Tuesday, the Dublin drugmaker announced that U.S. regulators had green-lighted the topical cream for facial erythema—or, in common terms, facial redness—based on data from two clinical studies. It’s the most common sign of rosacea, a malady that affects about 16 million Americans, and “historically, there haven’t been many options available” to docs, trial investigator Robert Weiss said in a statement.

But there is one option they’ve been turning to regularly, Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal wrote in a note to clients. As a dermatologist and key opinion leader told him last May, while “there are not a lot of good treatments” out there, laser is the exception. According to data from the 2015 American Society for Dermatologic Surgery survey, docs perform an estimated 451,630 laser treatments annually for facial redness.

And while Rhofade “works incredibly well”—it was “very obvious” who received Allergan’s med over placebo because “there was dramatic improvement of facial redness that lasted a while and looks natural,” the dermatologist told Gal—some patients would still rather receive three laser treatments and be done with the process than use a cream every day.

“There will be a split here,” the KOL said.

Still, Gal predicts Rhofade can touch $300 million in peak sales, and that’s a top-line boost Allergan could use. The company missed its Q3 marks in both the revenue and EPS departments, in part thanks to generics that bit 32% out of Namenda IR’s haul.

Now, it’s time for Allergan’s commercial team to go to work with the newcomer product, one of 11 rollouts for the 2016-2017 period that the company expects to combine for about $5 billion in peak sales. And CEO Brent Saunders is nothing if not confident the pharma’s ability to get the job done.

“Launch excellence is something that is a core competency of our commercial team,” he told investors during a presentation at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, noting that that’s “one of the things I want to stress to you.”