Axsome expands sales force to support launch of fast-growing depression med Auvelity

With revenue on the rise for its fast-working depression med Auvelity, Axsome Therapeutics is in the process of boosting its sales force with nearly 100 new hires.

The company’s previously divulged expansion from 162 to 260 Auvelity sales reps is underway and should be completed during this year's fourth quarter, Axsome said in its third-quarter earnings release.

The move is aimed at growing the drug’s prescriber base to 44,000 physicians who write about 90% of scripts for new antidepressant treatments, according to the company.

Over the third quarter, Axsome tallied some 69,000 prescriptions for the med, a 30% increase from the second quarter of this year.

Auvelity stands apart from other marketed antidepressants as the first rapid-acting treatment for major depressive disorder. The typical response time for tried-and-true depression meds is six to eight weeks, while Axsome’s offering shows improvements in week one of treatment.

Axsome's med is also the first oral drug for the patient population with a new mechanism of action in more than 60 years, according to the company.

Axsome had been vying for approval since 2021 when the FDA missed its original decision date after flagging deficiencies in the company's application. The agency's concerns stemmed from “analytical methods in the chemistry, manufacturing and controls section” of the submission, the drugmaker said at the time.

After working through the issues and finally nabbing FDA approval last August, the depression drug reached sales of $37.7 million during the third quarter.

Elsewhere in Axsome's portfolio, Sunosi for sleep apnea-related excessive daytime sleepiness generated $20.1 million. That drug is currently being tested as an ADHD treatment in a phase 3 trial and is being evaluated in binge eating disorder and shift work disorder, as well.

Auvelity sales came in above analysts’ consensus estimates of between $33.4 million to $35.6 million, as did Axsome's total third-quarter revenue, Mizuho Securities analysts wrote to clients. 

The company noted that payer coverage for the med “across all channels” stands at apparently 70%, but active discussions with payers are ongoing as coverage “further expands and evolves.”