GlaxoSmithKline Plc is exploring new treatments to replace Advair, the world’s best-selling drug for emphysema and chronic bronchitis caused by smoking. The company is considering a three-in-one treatment delivered in a single device, which would mix an inhaled corticosteroid with MABA, Glaxo’s experimental drug with two modes of action, to reduce inflammation and help open up the airways. We asked our Zintro experts whether this new formulation would differentiate Glaxo from its competitors.
Anastasia Papadaniil, commercial director in pharmaceuticals, believes that Advair has been a big part in Glaxo’s global success and the company has a huge potential in staying ahead of its competitors. “As far as it concerns asthma, there is a lot of competition: Astra, Novartis, UCB, Chiesi. Speaking in numbers, I think the global sales of Advair reached $ 7.8 billion last year, representing about 18% of Glaxo’s total revenue. I think that the new formulation, the three-in-one treatment delivered in a single device, along with a carefully designed strategic planning, will certainly differentiate Glaxo from its competitors,” Papadaniil notes. She points out that if Glaxo wants to take the lead in asthma and cord, aside from the active ingredients combination, the company needs to convince the patients to keep up with the drug device. “The secret is to have a device, designed to help improve delivery of active ingredients, exactly where they are needed, which is simple for the patient to understand and works out with the fewer steps, for the patient to remember,” she explains.
According to Stephen Goldman, chemical engineer and pharmaceutical scientist, Glaxo is currently ahead of its major competitor Novartis. “MABA has dual mechanisms of action so combined with a corticosteroid in Glaxo’s already developed Ellipta inhaler device would provide Glaxo with a large lead over Novartis’s planned formulation,” he notes. Moreover, Goldman believes that Glaxo will more likely keep the lead in this market. “This head start should afford Glaxo with months of market exclusivity worth billions of dollars, if their formulation is approved. In addition to this lead, GSK’s very successful drug Advair, which although is coming of patent protection, gave it a strong reputation and presence in the lung drug market which could keep their drugs in the back of doctors minds. This market presence, which is worth over $10 billion dollars today, should keep GSK in the lead in lung drugs for the next 3-4 years,” he explains.
Marianna Tcherpakov, market analyst and technology evaluation specialist, however, doesn’t agree that Glaxo will hold a strong position in the market. “Considering patent expiration of Advair in USA in 2010 and its soon to be “off patent” position in Europe in 2013, GSK is more than eager to replace its blockbuster with its successor Relvar,” she says. Tcherpakov believes that Novartis has shown more progress than Glaxo so far, in terms of product development. “Recent studies of Relvar don’t show any amazing improvement and actually raised some concerns. Novartis, on the other hand seems to get encouraging data from its trials on QVA149 and consequently good publicity for its new upcoming asthma treatment,” she adds. As Tcherpakov points out, Advair is a relatively expensive drug. Therefore, Glaxo will be better of with a generic version of the medicine instead of competing for market share with another expensive drug. “Yes, it is not so easy to manufacture generic Advair, but in the end how much better will be the new medicine/formulation against half price for old drug that works almost as good as new. Maybe, both GSK and Novartis will have to impress their patients with much more significant data than expected,” she explains.
By Idil Kan
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