New data backs GlaxoSmithKline's Incruse as an add-on to COPD med Breo Ellipta

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) recently added another new COPD med to its growing lineup, grabbing FDA approval for Incruse Ellipta last month. Now, data from a pair of new studies may help the company's respiratory reps find the drug's place in the market.

As new data shows, COPD patients who received Incruse in addition to Breo Ellipta--an aspiring blockbuster approved last year--saw additional improvement in lung function compared with patients receiving Breo and a placebo, Glaxo and partner Theravance announced Wednesday.

"We will continue to progress our research to expand our understanding of how the combined use of these medicines may provide physicians with another treatment approach to meet the individual needs of their patients," Darrell Baker, head of Glaxo's global respiratory franchise, said in a statement.

Those "individual needs" are a main focus of the pharma giant's "Patient First" model that made waves when the company first rolled it out in 2011. Reps swapped in their individual sales quotas for new performance metrics centered on the quality of their interaction with doctors, including how well-educated they are on a drug's profile.

With both Breo and fellow blockbuster wannabe Anoro approved in 2013 and Incruse getting the nod this year, Glaxo's respiratory products will in some ways be the test case for the new model. But while the company has a sizeable army of experienced COPD reps, some have questioned whether its corps can produce the same top-line power without a hard-target approach to sales.

Glaxo, for one, is confident in its re-tooled modus operandi--and it can't really afford not to be. The British drugmaker is counting on its new group of respiratory up-and-comers to step in where aging giant Advair, which brings in around one-fifth of its revenues, is fading. But whether or not Patient First performs to Glaxo's expectations, one thing is clear: With $8.25 billion in yearly sales, Advair will leave shoes too large for the new crop of COPD fledglings to fill.

- read the release

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