Growing the gout market has been slow going for Ironwood, which last year forayed into the space by grabbing AstraZeneca’s Zurampic. But now, the company has a new catalyst.
On Monday, the FDA approved Duzallo, a med that marries Zurampic with allopurinol, a compound that fights the excess of uric acid in the blood that’s associated with gout. And while Ironwood hasn’t yet announced a price for the combo treatment, “you can expect it to be quite comparable to what we saw with Zurampic,” commercial chief Tom McCourt said in an interview.
Especially considering that Duzallo is a primary care product, “payer access and reimbursement is absolutely paramount,” he added.
The way the company sees it, the new green light will tee up $300 million in annual peak gout sales. That may take a while, though. The newcomer “should provide greater convenience for patients and physicians (who no longer need to write two separate scripts) and help overall to further grow Ironwood’s gout franchise,” Barclays analyst Geoff Meacham wrote in a note to clients. But he expects “minimal revenue contributions” near-term.
That goes for both Duzallo and Zurampic; the pair aren’t expected to begin adding cash for Ironwood until at least 2019, he said.
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ironwood—whose bread and butter is Linzess, a GI drug it shares with Allergan—nabbed U.S. Zurampic rights last April for $265 million in cash plus royalties. For AZ—which later unloaded European and Latin American rights on the product to Grünenthal GmbH—the move was part of a wider castoff strategy that’s been helping the pharma giant through tough times.
So far, though, Zurampic has been slow to get off the ground. Meacham predicts sales of the product will touch just $10 million in 2017 and $75 million in 2018, a far cry from the $500 million in peak sales once forecasted for the therapy.
For Ironwood, though, the main draw of the deal was Duzallo, according to McCourt. “I think this is such a simple solution for primary care,” he said. “One pill, once a day to get twice as many people to goal is a wonderful offering to bring to patients.”