Neurocrine’s newly approved Parkinson’s drug suffers launch delay due to COVID-19

Following the news that the launch of Neurocrine Biosciences’ Ongentys (opicapone) has been delayed due to the disruption caused by COVID-19, after receiving Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval;

Sarah Elsayed, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view on the launch challenges amid the global pandemic:

“While GlobalData expects that the market for new PD products aimed at treating motor fluctuations holds great potential, it will be hard for most companies to meet their drug’s commercial launch expectations under these circumstances. GlobalData forecasts that if the drug launches in late 2020, it will have a slow uptake in its first year, but is then expected to grow, reaching its peak global sales of $303m in 2025.

“Neurocrine’s decision to delay Ongentys’ launch is the appropriate move to alleviate COVID-19 consequences on its new drug’s uptake for a number of reasons. Despite the progressive neurodegenerative nature of PD, it is not considered a life-threating condition, which means that neurologists will be less likely start prescribing a new drug amid this global crisis, especially with the presence of other competitors’ alternatives in the market.

“Additionally, PD patients are among the vulnerable and elderly groups, thus their routine follow-up appointments have been switched to virtual visits. Similarly, sales representatives are currently performing their pharma calls through e-detailing techniques, which may be effective in old and established brands. Nevertheless, new drug launch requires huge marketing and educational tactics which will take more time to be entirely shifted toward online solutions.

“As such, Neurocrine will hold off on its launch plan meaning that Ongentys will not be available in the US until the second half of this year. This news however bodes well for its major competitor Novartis’ Stalevo (levodopa,carbidopa and entacapone) that combines all three active ingredients in one pill, making it more convenient to use.”

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