Amgen’s Aimovig Starts Strong, Multiple Myeloma Drug Wows at Conference
By Alex Keown
In May the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Amgen’s preventative migraine treatment Aimovig. Amgen and its developmental partner Novartis said the medication would be ready within one week for patients.
The companies made good on their promise and so far, the launch seems to be doing well. Aimovig has a list price of $6,900 per year, but an analysis of sales shows that Aimovig is elbowing its way to the front as a preferred treatment. An analysis in Seeking Alpha cites IMS data that shows new patient starts are going strong for the anti-CGRP treatment. By August, the data showed that 20,000 patients are using Aimovig, according to the Seeking Alpha analysis. An additional 11,000 patients are expected to begin taking the medication to treat their migraines within the next few months.
According to the analysis, which cites anecdotal evidence, Aimovig is being used by patients who are “both episodic and chronic migraine patients” and is also being taken by patients who “are on another suboptimal preventive drug.”
Aimovig was approved by the FDA after Phase III results showed the medication reduced monthly migraine attacks in half. The medication developed by the two powerhouse companies is the only FDA-approved treatment specifically developed to prevent migraine by blocking the calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor (CGRP-R).
The Seeking Alpha analysis offers a caveat though. Some of the early use of Aimovig “has gone to free product trials.” And, the analysis notes, there are other anti-CGRP medications pending regulatory approval. Other companies with significant investments in migraine headache research like Allergan (ubrogepant), Teva (fremanezumab) and Eli Lilly (galcanezumab) and Alder BioPharmaceuticals (Eptinezumab) are also focused on the pathway as a treatment for the devastating headaches.
While Amgen enjoys paving the way in migraine research, the company could also surge forward in the multiple myeloma market. Over the weekend Amgen released data from its pipeline drug AMG-420, bispecific T cell engager, it acquired two years ago from Boehringer Ingelheim. Data, as reported on Seeking Alpha, showed five patients treated with AMG-420 showed “stringent complete responses” in relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. What’s more impressive, and will likely put multiple myeloma-leading companies like Celgene and bluebird bio on notice, is that following treatment with AMG-420, four of the five patients “were MRD-negative, meaning they had no detectable form of disease after treatment,” Seeking Alpha reported.
Amgen unveiled the data at a multiple myeloma conference over the weekend. AMG-420 targets B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA), a target in multiple myeloma due to its restricted normal tissue expression and uniform expression on multiple myeloma cells. When Amgen acquired the treatment from BI two years ago, it noted that the modified antibodies from the therapeutics “are designed to engage two different targets simultaneously, thereby juxtaposing T cells (a type of white blood cell capable of killing other cells perceived as threats) to cancer cells.”
The drug still has a way to go before it could potentially see regulatory approval, but if it keeps up, it could become a leading treatment in the multiple myeloma space. Shares of Amgen are up slightly in early trading to $202.50.