Teva's Ajovy finally gets its autoinjector nod. Can it close the gap with Amgen, Lilly meds?

For more than a year, Teva’s CGRP migraine prevention drug Ajovy has been battling competition from Amgen and Eli Lilly at a disadvantage: It's dosed with a syringe, and its rivals use simpler, less-intimidating autoinjectors. Now, the company has scored its own device approval to match its rivals. 

With the new FDA nod, the company will be able to package its medicine in an autoinjector, which patients prefer, according to analysts.  

Company execs believe the new delivery method can “drive a second phase of the launch” in the U.S., Jefferies analyst David Steinberg wrote Tuesday, citing a meeting with Teva’s management back in November. The company is still hunting 25% market share, even though it’s now lagging Amgen’s Aimovig and Eli Lilly’s Emgality. 

As of Friday, Ajovy held 13.4% of the total prescriptions in the CGRP migraine prevention market, compared with 49.3% for Aimovig and 37.3% for Emgality, RBC Capital Markets analyst Brian Abrahams wrote in a note to clients. Previously, the prefilled syringe left Ajovy at a “modest disadvantage” in the market as patients had to get over the “psychological hurdle” of the syringe, Abrahams' colleague Randall Stanicky wrote last spring. 

RELATED: How can Teva's migraine drug face off Amgen and Lilly? Put neurologists first, DTC last, executive says 

But on the flip side, Teva is the only CGRP migraine prevention drug with quarterly and monthly dosing options, Brendan O'Grady, executive vice president of North American commercial ops, said in a Tuesday statement. The company will roll out the autoinjector in the coming months.

Of course, the competition isn’t going anywhere. As Steinberg noted, both rivals are advertising heavily, and Lilly has been picking up steam due to “best-in-class” access on the payer side, execs for that company said in July. 

RELATED: Teva abandons Ajovy's cluster headache ambitions, clearing a path for Lilly to forge a new market 

Through the first nine months of 2019, Aimovig pulled in $208 million, while Emgality generated $96 million and Ajovy sales reached $68 million. The Jefferies team predicts $102 million in 2019 sales for Ajovy and $215 million this year, but Steinberg wrote the “estimate seems to be in jeopardy based on current trends.”

Teva previously sought a second use for Ajovy in cluster headaches but abandoned that pursuit after a phase 3 trial failure. That left Lilly’s Emgality to capture that market itself with a June 2019 approval.