Teva's Ajovy, chasing Amgen and Lilly drugs, gains steam after autoinjector rollout

Upon its FDA approval in 2018, Teva’s migraine prevention medicine Ajovy faced tough prospects as it trailed a rival into the market with a less desirable delivery method. Nearly two years later, with an approval for an autoinjector device in hand, Teva's launch is beginning to kick into gear. 

During the second quarter, Ajovy's North American sales grew 50% to $34 million, and Teva CEO Kare Schultz said on a conference call he expects sales to keep increasing. Teva set out to win around 25% of the market, and since the auto-injector nod, the company’s share of prescriptions for patients starting treatment “has continued to grow significantly per month and per week," the CEO said.

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

The drug has also launched in Canada and Europe, as well, and scored reimbursement in 16 countries worldwide, Schultz said. He told analysts the drug’s sales will “slowly … start to add up” to hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

Based on recent prescription trends, analysts seem to agree. The med's sales are now annualizing at about $210 million, Jefferies analysts wrote in a note to clients after looking at current prescription numbers. Total prescriptions are up 17% this quarter, according to a separate note from J.P. Morgan analysts. 

And while the medicine picked up momentum in the second quarter, July looked even better, Schultz added.

Ajovy originally won approval in a prefilled syringe, which left the drug at a “modest disadvantage” in the market, with patients forced to get over the “psychological hurdle” of a syringe, RBC Capital Markets analyst Randall Stanicky wrote last spring.

RELATED: With Vyepti launch, Lundbeck aims to overcome challenges in crowded migraine field: exec 

As a new growth driver, Ajovy is an important launch for Teva following major cost cuts at the company. But the drug trailed Amgen’s Aimovig into the market and hasn’t been able to match the sales of its rivals. Now, a fourth company is in the CGRP migraine prevention market in Lundbeck. That drugmaker recently scored approval for Vyepti, a 30-minute infusion administered every three months.