Ron Cohen MD, President and CEO of Acorda Therapeutics Inc, spoke at the 31st Annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this week. According to Dr. Cohen, their lead drug, Ampyra (dalfampridine) had estimated sales in 2012 of approximately $266 million which is a 26% increase from 2011.
Ampyra for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
In 2010, Ampyra was granted orphan drug approval to improve walking in patients with MS. Ampyra works by blocking potassium channels on the service of nerve fibers and thereby is believed to enhance the signal conduction in neurons that have lost or damaged myelin sheaths, such as the neurons damaged in MS.
In his presentation, Dr. Cohen noted that 73,000 patients have now taken Ampyra and that Acorda continues to increase patient access to the drug, especially in managed care where the drug renewed its tier 2 statuses with Aetna, Cigna, and United Healthcare. In 2013, Acorda plans to continue to establish Ampyra as the ‘standard of care to improve walking in MS’ through several measures including: 1) increased presence at consumer health fairs 2) ePrescribing pilot program to further streamline the reimbursement process, and 3) persistency programs through specialty pharmacies.
Ampyra for Other Indications
In addition to MS, Dr. Cohen said that Acorda is looking at hath safety and efficacy of Ampyra in both post stroke deficits and cerebral palsy. Phase 1 studies for both indications have begun and results are expected in early 2013.
Diazepam Nasal Spray for Acute Repetitive Seizures (ARS)
In 2012, Acorda obtained diazepam nasal spray following the acquisition of Neuronex. It is estimated there are up to 175,000 patients with ARS and the only drug approved for ARS patients is diazepam rectal gel (Valeant’s Diastat). At present Acorda’s diazepam nasal spray has an orphan designation for ARS and Dr. Cohen stated that they should file a NDA shortly and are hopeful that the nasal spray can be launched as early as 2014.
In a press release, Dr Cohen noted that in addition to ARS, diazepam nasal spray may also be effective for other neuromuscular conditions. Dr. Cohen said, “In December, we acquired rights to Diazepam Nasal Spray, which adds an important, potential near-term commercial asset to our pipeline. We are currently preparing a New Drug Application that we expect to submit to the