BioTrends Research Group released topline findings from LaunchTrends®: ACTEMRA, Wave 1 today, highlighting the market uptake of the product at one month post launch. Actemra (tocilizumab), marketed by Roche-Genentech, is a new IL-6 inhibitor with monthly dosing by IV infusion. The study results are based on an on-line survey completed by 77 rheumatologists in late February.

The surveyed rheumatologists are excited to have a new biologic agent that offers a unique mechanism of action and every one of the respondents intends to use Actemra in their practice although the timeframe for adoption does vary. Among those surveyed, 38% have started patients on Actemra and 68% have seen the representative for Actemra. Although rheumatologists report that Actemra is most likely to replace BMS's Orencia and Roche-Genentech's own Rituxan, patient origination reports indicated that 60% of the newly started Actemra patients were actually switched from a TNF agent.

So how will rheumatologists choose a biologic agent for patients with so many products available? Efficacy and safety attributes are clearly the most important considerations with "Slows disease progression as evidenced by radiographic data" being rated the most important attribute. However, over 70% of the respondents agreed that the quality of a manufacturer's co-pay and patient assistance programs are an important factor when choosing a biologic. While the TNF products are expected to maintain the first and second line position in the near future, the respondents in this research indicate that Actemra will be a strong contender for the third line agent issuing the greatest challenge to Orencia.

The full report will be released on March 12th and two subsequent waves of research are planned to track uptake at three months and six months post launch.

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