Sometimes follow-on drugs are flubs that would have been better put in the trash can, but I don't think that'll be the case for Johnson & Johnson's
The TNF-alpha inhibitor enters a crowded market that includes Abbott Laboratories'
First, Simponi is injected once a month, which is better than the other TNF-alpha inhibitors that are injected two to four times a month. It's not a huge advantage -- the first company to develop an oral drug that works well for rheumatoid arthritis should do extremely well -- but the reduced number of needle pokes should be a decent selling point.
Second and more importantly, Simponi has been shown to work well in patients that have failed other TNF-alpha drugs. Because approximately 20% of patients fail to respond to the currently available drugs, there's a fairly large market that Simponi can move into.
While the marketing in the U.S. is all set, overseas it's far from clear who will market the drug if it gets approved. In 2007, Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough
Trying to avoid this, Merck
Between battling with entrenched leaders and fighting with indirect generic competition from first-generation drugs going off patents, follow-on drugs often have a rough time of it. But Simponi seems different enough that it might be able to make a serious dent in the anti-inflammatory market ... even if the brand name sounds like a pasta dish.
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