Roche’s new flu drug continues to rack up PhIII successes — but can it beat generic Tamiflu with outcomes like this?
Roche’s campaign to create a successor to Tamiflu took one step forward today with the news that Xofluza was well tolerated in children taking the flu med. But once again it’s “comparable” to Tamiflu, the franchise drug at Roche that’s been shredded by copycat rivals since the drug came off patent.
And that could be two steps back.
We won’t get the hard numbers on MINISTONE-II until later, but Roche’s bottom line here is that Xofluza is just as good as the world’s leading antiviral med, now available cheap. That leaves Roche making the case that the one-dose regimen for Xofluza is easier and more certain to do the job, avoiding the risk of prolonging the flu — which can be dangerous — and seeing it spread further and faster if the dosing isn’t completed properly.
But is “comparable” a good enough argument for payers who have to choose between a cheap and popular mainstay or a branded new arrival?
Roche has had to explain similar comparisons before, including CAPSTONE-II, where Roche demonstrated a significant reduction in time needed to show an improvement in symptoms — compared to a placebo. The data on Xofluza and Tamiflu were not significantly different. And that mirrored results from CAPSTONE-I, offering compelling evidence of similarity.
But Roche is still determined to make this a hit in a major, annual market.
“Children need new medicines for the flu because they are at higher risk of developing the flu and more likely to have complications such as breathing problems and pneumonia. These flu complications, which in some cases can be fatal, lead to approximately one million children under five being admitted to the hospital globally every year,” said Genentech CMO Sandra Horning.
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