With Cinqair nod, Teva squares off with GSK in severe asthma

Watch out, GlaxoSmithKline--you've got more competition.

Teva ($TEVA) won FDA approval Wednesday for its own biologic drug for severe asthma with eosinophilic inflammation, Cinqair. It'll join GSK's ($GSK) Nucala on the market, which rolled out after nabbing the agency's favor in early November.

But the way Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal sees it, Glaxo's product will come out on top when it comes to market share. He referred back to an investor note from 2014, when he argued that the efficacy and safety differences between contenders in the class "are rather small and we thus expect the primary adoption factors would be order of market entry and formulation."

And in addition to Glaxo's first-to-market advantage, it also has a point in the formulation column. Nucala is a subcutaneous drug, while Cinqair is an injectable, and the Israeli drugmaker is still working on its own subcutaneous version.

Overall, Gal expects to see Cinqair net $300 million in sales by 2023, though it'll have to fight off more than just Nucala to get there. Novartis' ($NVS) Xolair also has a severe asthma indication, though its label doesn't specifically address eosinophilic inflammation--a condition GSK says affects 60% of severe asthma patients. And drugmakers such as AstraZeneca ($AZN) are working on their own direct challengers to Cinqair and Nucala.

Still, Teva will welcome whatever boost to its branded drug business that Cinqair can provide. Last month, the Petah Tikva-based drugmaker acknowledged that copycats of multiple sclerosis star Copaxone had finally started to take their toll, dragging sales of the med down by 14% to miss analyst expectations.

- read Teva's release

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