Biohaven set to be 'a major migraine player' as Nurtec ODT sales dwarf estimates: analysts

Biohaven Pharmaceuticals was confident its oral migraine med Nurtec ODT could rattle the market as the only FDA-approved option to both prevent and treat recurring headaches. Now, with a few months of sales under its belt, it appears the CGRP player is well on its way. 

Biohaven on Wednesday reported Nurtec ODT, also known as rimegepant, raked in $93 million in sales during the second quarter, a whopping 112% increase compared with the previous quarter. That dwarfed the roughly $54.7 million Wall Street was expecting, sending shares of the New Haven, Connecticut-based drugmaker up more than 12% to $111 as of Wednesday afternoon. 

This marks the first quarterly report since the drug won a key FDA nod in May to prevent episodic migraines, or fewer than 15 days of headaches per month. Nurtec ODT is the first oral anti-CGRP drug approved for preventive migraine treatment and the only dual therapy for both acute and preventive use. 

RELATED: With latest FDA nod, Biohaven's Nurtec becomes first migraine med to prevent—and treat—attacks

With both indications in hand, CEO Vlad Coric predicted Biohaven’s 75-mg pill would disrupt the existing treatment landscape of injectable antibodies, which includes Amgen’s Aimovig, Eli Lilly’s Emgality and Teva Pharmaceuticals’ Ajovy.

Given the option, patients would likely move away from an injectable or intranasal medicine and toward an oral CGRP therapy, Coric said earlier this year. Biohaven’s pill, which comes in a pack of eight, can be taken up to once daily to stop migraine attacks. It can also be taken every other day to help prevent pain and reduce the number of attacks per month. 

So far, Biohaven has tallied more than 750,000 Nurtec ODT prescriptions since the drug's launch last year, the company said Wednesday, up 50% from April. Those figures prove there’s “significant traction” toward the oral CGRPs, Piper Sandler analysts wrote in a note to clients. 

That's not to mention the late-stage data from Biohaven's intranasal zavegepant for the immediate treatment of migraines. With that in mind, Biohaven is shaping up to be “a major migraine player,” the analysts said. 

The investment bank expected Nurtec ODT to draw in $274 million in sales this year, but, given the treatment has already cashed in roughly $137 million in the first half so far, it’s likely those previous expectations “will prove much too conservative,” the analysts wrote. Piper Sandler didn't provide an updated figure. 

For comparison, Lilly’s top-selling migraine med Emgality generated $362 million in sales last year. Lilly recently announced plans to pit its monthly injectable against Nurtec ODT in a head-to-head study in patients with episodic migraines. 

RELATED: Eli Lilly pins injectable migraine med Emgality against Biohaven's oral rival Nurtec ODT in head-to-head study

That study, slated to start later this year, will be the first between the two treatment methods and could help fill a gap in the information both clinicians and providers need when deciding on treatments, Lilly executives told Fierce Pharma in June. 

But Biohaven’s Coric didn't mince words when it came to Lilly’s challenge, calling it “a competitive move by a company with an injectable drug to try to hold market share.”

To be sure, Biohaven will eventually face competition from other oral therapies. The FDA is also reviewing an oral drug from AbbVie, known as atogepant, for the preventive treatment of migraines. That pill is taken daily.