Biohaven embraces digital to keep migraine launch on track despite COVID-19

Biohaven won FDA approval for migraine treatment Nurtec ODT in February. (Biohaven)

The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on business operations spanning industries, and that’s true for biopharma companies rolling out new medicines. Biohaven is in the early stages of launching migraine med Nurtec ODT, and, in response to social distancing measures, the company has moved to a virtual-first approach to getting the word out.

Boasting a 500-person sales team, Biohaven won FDA approval for acute migraine treatment Nurtec ODT last month. Of course, a lot has changed worldwide since then, with many regional lockdowns now in place around the U.S. and beyond.

In response, the company is using webinars, telemedicine, DTC and social media to market its drug to both doctors and patients, CEO Vlad Coric said via email. The drugmaker employed 647 people at the end of 2019, and the group “regularly used virtual meeting technology” even before the pandemic hit, he said.

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RELATED: Biohaven set to take on Allergan, Lilly with new migraine med and 500-plus reps 

Now, like others across biopharma during the pandemic, the company is further embracing digital measures to communicate information to doctors and patients, Coric said. The drugmaker is using “remote detailing” for physician education and continuing payer communications digitally to secure reimbursement, the CEO added. Biohaven this week hosted a webinar panel of key opinion leaders who discussed the new migraine drug for an audience, replacing an in-person gathering.

“In many geographies, our field sales team is taking the responsible approach, working via virtual meetings to interact with physicians, shipping samples or utilizing other approaches to remotely interact with physician offices,” he added.

The company’s top priority is to serve patients, Coric said. Considering the challenges patients are facing amid the pandemic, it’s “more important than ever before to provide real relief from migraine."

“It is precisely at times like these when migraine patients may experience heightened attacks,” Coric said. “It is supremely important to keep those suffering from migraine functioning normally, and out of doctor offices/emergency rooms so that those HCPs can attend to more urgent matters.”

Aside from its marketing effort, Biohaven is also “planning for the possibility that the annual meeting may be held solely by means of remote communications,” its proxy filing says.  

RELATED: Can Biohaven challenge the Allergan/AbbVie goliath in migraine? CEO Coric thinks so 

On the market, Biohaven's drug is going up against other new migraine treatment options from Eli Lilly and Allergan, plus older therapies.

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