Pharma, R&D

Teva’s migraine drug can’t stop another bad R&D headache as researchers scrap a failed PhIII program for Ajovy

Teva’s marketing horizon for its recently approved migraine drug just got smaller.

The generics company $TEVA with a pipeline, Ajovy’s OK last fall was one of the rare R&D bright spots at the company, which has been undergoing a wrenching restructuring in the last 18 months. But researchers for the company said on Tuesday that they are scrapping a Phase III trial for episodic cluster headaches after the drug (fremanezumab) failed to clear a futility test.

Teva had already given up on a chronic cluster headache study last summer, but remains in the clinic for post-traumatic headache.

The setback will cost Teva some of the badly needed upside on this drug, which the Bloomberg consensus set at about $500 million for 2022 sales — Leerink projected $629 million in 2023 — as the drugs in the class divvy up a multibillion-dollar market. This drug was the second CGRP therapy to get past regulators, following Aimovig from Novartis $NVS and Amgen $AMGN, now the subject of a legal battle over the future of their alliance.

Teva’s loss here could be its rivals’ gain. Eli Lilly recently snagged a priority review for its CGRP contender Emgality as a treatment for cluster headaches, offering some mixed data from that program. 

Alder $ALDR, the last of the CGRP contenders, announced just hours ago that their pitch has been accepted by the FDA. And the little company could disrupt a migraine market where the price is lined up at $6,900 a year.

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