Decision Resources, one of the world's leading research and advisory firms focusing on pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, finds that surveyed neurologists anticipate that less than 30 percent of their use of emerging oral agents --- Merck Serono's oral cladribine, Novartis/Mitsubishi Pharma's fingolimod (FTY-720) --- for the treatment of multiple sclerosis will be in the first line. Surveyed neurologists expect to use these drugs in patients who refuse injectables, filling an important unmet need and potentially increasing the drug-treatment rate in newly diagnosed patients.
"Surveyed neurologists' responses suggest that Biogen Idec's Avonex is more at-risk than Teva's Copaxone of losing share upon the launch of either oral cladribine or fingolimod, as more physicians cite Avonex as having potential for being replaced by either emerging oral agent," stated Amanda Puffer, M.Sc., analyst at Decision Resources. "However, approximately half of the surveyed neurologists who are aware of these therapies are unsure if they will prescribe them, most likely because of uncertainty about these agents' side-effect/safety profiles."
The new report entitled Treatment Algorithms in Multiple Sclerosis also finds that only 38.8 percent of newly diagnosed patients receive a drug within one year of their first diagnosis. This highlights the substantial room for increased uptake of disease-modifying therapies in newly diagnosed patients. While surveyed neurologists indicate they prescribe disease-modifying therapies to the majority of relapsing-remitting patients (the dominant multiple sclerosis subtype), they are less likely to prescribe disease-modifying therapies to patients with clinically isolated syndrome (early-stage multiple sclerosis). This is despite clinical studies indicating that early initiation of disease-modifying therapies can delay progression of the disease, and specifically, delay disability progression.
"Those patients who do not start disease-modifying treatment right away represent an untapped opportunity for marketers of disease-modifying drugs," added Ms. Puffer. "Treatment rates could be improved, especially for patients with early stage disease, through increased awareness among both neurologists and primary care physicians, of the benefits surrounding early treatment initiation. These improvements would facilitate increased use of disease-modifying therapies."
About Treatment Algorithm Insight Series
Decision Resources combines in-depth primary research with the most extensive claims-based longitudinal patient-level data from IMS Lifelink: Health Plans Claims database to provide exceptional insight into physicians' prescribing trends and the factors that drive therapy product choice, from diagnosis through multiple courses of treatment, for a specific disease.
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