Spherix Global Insights

April 25, 2024

Biogen plots 30% Leqembi field force bump, omnichannel campaigns as launch enters new phase

Biogen and Eisai are ready to ramp up their Leqembi sales and marketing push. After a slow start, Biogen is now planning to grow its U.S. field force by 30% as it works with Eisai on direct to patient and caregiver omnichannel marketing campaigns.

The landmark Alzheimer’s disease drug ambled out of the gate after winning FDA approval last year, but Biogen reported signs of momentum in its first-quarter results. Global sales hit $19 million, almost triple the figure for the fourth quarter, as Biogen and Eisai increased the number of patients on therapy by 2.5 times. New starts in March contributed more than 20% of the cumulative patients now on the drug.

Buoyed by the small steps, Biogen outlined plans to dial up support for the launch. Biogen CEO Chris Viehbacher told investors on the earnings call that a 30% increase in the U.S. sales force is in the works, although management sidestepped an analyst request to quantify the current commercial footprint.

Alisha Alaimo, president, head of North America at Biogen, added that the company is working to hire a customer-facing field team, which will join Eisai. The expansion is part of a broader push to throw more sales and marketing muscle behind the recently launched drug.

“To activate the patient community, Biogen and Eisai have launched new direct to patient and caregiver omnichannel marketing campaigns. These digital programs and point of care resources are focused on the already diagnosed patients who we believe are under the care of a neurologist,” Alaimo said.

A spokesperson for Eisai provided more details of the marketing push. Eisai and Biogen’s “You Still Can Be With Leqembi” campaign is focusing on patients under the care of neurologists to increase awareness and educate them to engage with their healthcare professional. The partners are sharing materials, which describe the diagnostic process and Leqembi’s mechanism, via channels including physician office print and video.

Viehbacher added that the teams “have a number of new elements of our promotional mix that will start to come into play as we progress through the second quarter.” Biogen is “looking at redeploying some resources here and there, as we see what’s important and what’s not,” the CEO said.

The expanded sales team will “focus mainly on the large [integrated delivery networks] that are now opening up their expand and extend satellite offices, where they’re now going to allow a larger cohort of patients to come through for diagnosis and treatment,” Alaimo said. It has taken large systems six to eight months to prepare to provide Leqembi at scale, Alaimo said, and that lag informed the strategy.

“We didn’t want to go out of the gate with a really huge field force that wasn’t able to actually impact or penetrate the market,” Alaimo said. “We focused on really the top accounts that we think handle the majority of the diagnosed patients, especially [those] that are under neurology care. And we said once the market gets to a place where we think it’s ready for expansion, then we will expand.”

Recent reports suggest Biogen and Eisai’s sales and marketing teams have work to do to get physicians to see Leqembi as an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s. A Spherix survey of 75 high-prescribing U.S. neurologists who work with Alzheimer’s patients found few experts see Leqembi as a significant advance over the shallow pool of existing treatments. A subsequent Reuters report also revealed skepticism.

Source: Fierce Pharma: https://www.fiercepharma.com/marketing/biogen-plots-30-leqembi-field-force-bump-omnichannel-campaigns-launch-enters-new-phase