Most Payers Expect to Manage New MS Drug Ponvory to Label

Although there are more than 20 FDA-approved disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS), companies continue to bring new products onto the market. Zitter Insights found that the majority of payers expect to manage the newest entrant, the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson’s Ponvory (ponesimod), to label.

On March 19, the FDA approved Ponvory to treat adults with relapsing forms of MS, including clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease and active secondary progressive disease. The approval was based in part on the Phase III OPTIMUM study, which showed the product reduced annual relapses by 30.5%, compared with Sanofi’s Aubagio (teriflunomide). It also reduced brain lesions by more than 50%.

Dosing for the tablet is 20 mg once daily.

The sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator joins other oral agents within that class: Gilenya (fingolimod) and Mayzent (siponimod), both from Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., and Bristol Myers Squibb’s Zeposia (ozanimod).

For the Managed Care Biologics & Injectables Index: Q1 2021, between Feb. 25, 2021, and April 2, 2021, Zitter Insights polled 40 commercial payers with 128.6 million covered lives. Payers covering 82% of lives anticipate they will manage Ponvory to label following pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) review. Some respondents say they will be looking at prices in the class.

Zitter Insights and AIS Health are MMIT companies.

According to website GoodRx, the price of 30 20 mg tablets is around $8,000. In a March 25 Anton Rx Report, Executive Editor Bill Sullivan states that other drugs are in the $7,000 to $10,000 per month range.

Zitter Insights also polled 50 neurologists during the same time frame. Almost two-thirds expect to prescribe Ponvory over certain MS therapies (see chart below). Among this group of respondents, Aubagio was the top drug they expected to prescribe Ponvory over, while Mayzent and Novartis’ CD20-directed cytolytic antibody Kesimpta (ofatumumab) were on the opposite end.

For more information on the Zitter data, contact Jill Brown Kettler at jbrown@aishealth.com.

Angela Maas

Angela has an extensive background of editing, reporting and writing for trade and consumer publications. She has written Radar on Specialty Pharmacy (formerly called Specialty Pharmacy News) since she joined AIS Health in 2005 and has broad knowledge of the various issues at play within the space. Before joining AIS Health, she was managing editor at Employee Benefit News and Employee Benefit News Canada and managing editor at HemAware (a hemophilia publication), Lupus Living and Momentum (a multiple sclerosis publication). She has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in British literature from Arizona State University.

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