June 28, 2023
Despite Impressive Early Uptake of Apellis’ Syfovre in Geographic Atrophy, US Ophthalmologists Struggle to Articulate the Complement Inhibitor’s Value Proposition to Potential Patients
Lack of vision improvement, amongst other efficacy concerns, as well as potential for conversion to neovascular age-related macular degeneration are among core barriers limiting Syfovre uptake, according to Spherix Global Insights.
EXTON, Pa., June 28, 2023 –With the U.S. FDA approval of Apellis’ Syfovre (pegcetacoplan) on February 17th, 2023 for the treatment of geographic atrophy (GA), patients gained access to the first and only therapy aimed at slowing progression of this degenerative retina condition. According to Spherix Global Insights’ Launch Dynamix™: Syfovre (Apellis) (US) service, at three months post-launch, the complement inhibitor is off to an impressive start, with nearly half of surveyed US ophthalmologists (n=77) already trialing the agent amongst their GA patients.
Likely due to Apellis’ disease awareness campaign and active early medical messaging, prescribers are well-educated and report high awareness and familiarity with Syfovre. Furthermore, most respondents have recently engaged with an Apellis sales representative (who are rated generally high across a variety of metrics) and nearly 85% have recently learned something new about the asset.
Overall initiations and candidacy rates for the brand are impressive, particularly considering the uncharted approach to GA treatment in the community and short tenure on the market. Sampled ophthalmologists highlight candidates for Syfovre include those with fast progressing GA, patients with foveal lesion encroachment and/or significant fellow eye vision loss, and those likely to be compliant with treatment.
Indeed, compliance and patient retention will be key for success, particularly given that the overall value of the medication does not boast clear improvement of vision making it a ‘hard sell’ to patients. One prescriber outlines the difficulty in explaining the benefit to potential patients as follows, “Patients that have very early geographic atrophy most of the time don’t have any major visual complaints. Then to sell the idea to start doing injections every month, it’s kind of hard to explain to the patient. Then you have the other bunch of patients where GA attributes are very advanced. These patients don’t understand why they’re doing the injection if nothing is going to improve. That’s a challenge for the clinical part of it.” A major consideration for Syfovre use will be losing patients to attrition as they grow tired of a perceived lack of results, a phenomenon Spherix has already started to capture amongst users.
While patients may struggle to see the benefit of the treatment of their GA with Syfovre, so do some ophthalmologists – efficacy concerns, along with the possible conversion to nAMD are among the top barriers to increased use. Furthermore, administration is another issue potentially hampering brand growth. Several users report difficulty with the timely withdrawal of the highly viscous medication into the syringe, extending the overall chair-time per patient and possibly resulting in lost opportunity to maximize patients treated per day across intravitreal therapies.
Despite the noted early-launch pains, prescribers are actively navigating this new territory. Expanded use of Syfovre is positive and the outlook is quite rosy. Next six-month projections reveal the user-base will increase by 60% and patient initiations will continue to rise, factors that will be important for Apellis to materialize given the GA competition on the near-term horizon. Specifically, Iveric Bio is planning to roll out their own GA therapy, avacincaptad pegol (also known as Zimura) with an FDA action date set for August of this year. Syfovre has a limited amount of time to capture as much of the GA market before its first competitor enters the ring.
Spherix will continue to track the launch of Syfove through Launch Dynamix™: Syfovre (Apellis) (US) service and plans to follow Iveric Bio’s avacincaptad pegol in the same reporting format if approved.
About Launch Dynamix™
Launch Dynamix™ is an independent service providing a monthly benchmarking of newly launched products for the first eighteen months of commercial availability, augmented by a quarterly deep dive into patient types initiated, brand perceptions, promotional activity, and drivers and barriers to uptake.
About Spherix Global Insights
Spherix Global Insights is a leading provider of market research, business intelligence and advisory services to the global life sciences industry. The company’s unique service offerings are powered by deep therapeutic knowledge, the Spherix Network specialty physician panel, and commercially relevant analyses to enable strategic decision-making by our valued customers.
A trusted advisor and industry thought leader, Spherix Global Insights provides specialized market expertise in six (6) focused therapeutic areas including: dermatology, gastroenterology, nephrology, neurology, rheumatology and ophthalmology.
Spherix Global Insights Contacts:
Chrystal Ferguson, Insights Director, Ophthalmology
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