Pfizer previously held out hope that Eucrisa would become the trendiest topical treatment for inflammatory skin conditions. However, the ointment never took off because of adverse reactions and funding problems. Arcutis Biotherapeutics, a young biotech company, is now introducing a novel medicine that addresses the same medication target but has a radically different product profile.
For the treatment of plaque psoriasis in patients 12 years of age and older, especially in skin folds called intertriginous regions, the cream medication roflumilast by Arcutis recently received FDA approval under the trade name Zoryve. The usage of the green light is unrestricted throughout the whole length of the sickness, from moderate to severe.
Following years of commercial planning, Arcutis will release the steroid-free Zoryve cream as soon as it gets approval, CEO Frank Watanabe confirmed.
Watanabe criticised the overly aggressive pricing of current topicals and stated Arcutis will charge $825 for each 60g tube of Zoryve. That is significantly less expensive than the $1,325 list price per tube Dermavant has set for its recently FDA-approved rival psoriasis ointment Vtama or the $1,950 sticker Incyte placed on its topical atopic dermatitis medication Opzelura.
According to Watanabe, Arcutis chose that amount because insurance providers felt it was an acceptable fee that they would be prepared to reimburse without too many barriers and limitations. The company believes they will be able to get comprehensive and heavy coverage because of this.
Pfizer decided not give Eucrisa a different line of sales report in 2021 despite initial estimates that it may reach peak sales of over $2 billion. Its commercial failure is partly due to unfavourable formulary positioning and greater rebates in the face of inexpensive steroids. According to Mizuho analysts, Arcutis has estimated that the combined sales potential for topical roflumilast across a number of indications will range from $1.8 billion to $3.8 billion in 2030. The PDE4 inhibitor class includes both Eucrisa and Zoryve, but Watanabe believes they are two totally different drugs.
First off, Eucrisa, which is only now licenced for eczema, has never been effective for psoriasis. Early safety testing on a greater ratio of the medication failed for psoriasis, so Watanabe recalled that the drug’s original inventor, Anacor Pharma—which Pfizer acquired for $5.2 billion in 2016—lowered the dosage and switched to eczema.
Eucrisa still has a scorching or stinging feeling even in its present form, which has massively diminished its uptake.
Otezla, an oral PDE4 inhibitor manufactured by Amgen, has 2021 sales of $2.2 billion. However, in clinical studies for plaque psoriasis, Otezla could have a 17% adverse effect rate for both diarrhoea and nausea. According to Watanabe, Zoryve has psoriasis efficacy that is at least as excellent as Otezla’s, without the stinging and burning of Eucrisa and with barely any of Otezla’s gastrointestinal disorders.
In the DERMIS-1 and DERMIS-2 clinical studies, 40% of patients who received Zoryve reported a successful course of treatment by week 8, compared to 6 to 7% of patients who received a placebo.
The FDA has raised safety issues for JAK inhibitors, particularly Opzelura, and SVB Securities analysts lately observed that doctors greatly enjoy Zoryve’s robust safety profile. In a poll conducted by SVB last year, 84% of doctors said they had no concerns about Zoryve’s safety profile, and 45% of them thought it was promising.
Additionally, whereas Eucrisa and Otezla must be consumed twice daily, Zoryve only needs to be taken once daily. Watanabe pointed out that another reason Eucrisa failed to win over patients was its oily ointment texture, whereas Zoryve’s cream composition allows for rapid skin absorption. In the present psoriasis treatment landscape, innovative biologics including Cosentyx by Novartis, Taltz by Eli Lilly, and Skyrizi by AbbVie have shown impressive success in treating psoriasis. Watanabe, who formerly assisted Amgen with the marketing of Enbrel, claimed that Zoryve is not portrayed as a rival to biologic medications.
The chief executive stated that they really regard themselves as being comparable to—not competing with—the biologics. Watanabe observed that despite biologics’ outstanding performance, only 8% of psoriasis patients actually take them, with practically all of them using topical medications. In addition, biologics have demonstrated their ability to restore totally normal skin in roughly 50% of psoriasis patients. He continued, that leaves an additional 50% where Zoryve could assist in wiping away any leftover plaques.
With a specific mention of healing skin creases on its label, Zoryve distinguishes itself further. These are delicate areas where using conventional steroids can result in more negative effects. Doctors advised us to utilise Zoryve there first because it was so clear and there were not any other viable solutions, according to Watanabe.
The initial users of Zoryve will probably be other individuals who have used steroids and Vitamin D analogues repeatedly, those who have itching, and those who are allergic to steroids, according to Watanabe.
However, Dermavant’s Vtama cream, an AhR agonist, may pose a significant threat to Zoryve as it too has a relatively good safety profile, with the exception of instances of hair follicle irritation. Physician replies to SVB’s poll on Vtama’s efficacy, safety, and potential use were all more positive than those for Zoryve.
Arcutis has spent a lot of time getting ready for the launch. The company’s payer team was hired a year ago, and its medical affairs team has been teaching doctors for a year and a half. Additionally, it has employed 50% of its sales crew, with the remaining hiring to be approved.
The business is also moving beyond psoriasis. By the end of the year, results from Zoryve’s phase 3 atopic dermatitis trials should be available. Arcutis now aims to register with the FDA beginning next year after a phase 3 test on a foam variant of the medication reportedly produced promising findings, according to Watanabe.