Spherix Global Insights

June 24, 2022

US Dermatologists’ Lack of Success with Current Treatment Options in Vitiligo Paves the Way for Pipeline Advanced Systemic Agents to Disrupt the Market, According to Spherix Global Insights

Dermatologists are most enthused about the potential utility of the JAK inhibitor class, including Incyte’s Opzelura, AbbVie’s Rinvoq, Pfizer’s ritlecitinib, and Incyte’s INCB54707

EXTON, Pa., June 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Vitiligo is a disease that causes loss of skin color in patches when cells that produce melanin die or stop functioning.1 Spherix recently surveyed 101 US dermatologists and followed up with eleven qualitative interviews (including three with industry key opinion leaders) to assess the current and future treatment paradigm of vitiligo patients.

According to the Market Dynamix™ report, most patients experience mild-to-moderate disease based on body surface area (BSA). Dermatologists also measure severity in terms of the patient’s quality of life and the location of their vitiligo. Unlike many other dermatologic conditions, physicians report their patients being more impacted socially and in terms of their mental health, compared to physical measures such as pain, sleep quality, and fatigue. There are currently no FDA-approved treatments available for vitiligo and therefore the unmet need, regardless of disease severity, remains high.

In terms of standard of care, adults and adolescents currently receive similar treatment for vitiligo. Topical steroids are commonly used first-line, regardless of patient severity. Dermatologists will add topical immunotherapy for patients who do not respond to topical steroids. For the more severe patient, phototherapy may be used in conjunction with topical therapies. Off-label use of small molecules is minimal, however, use of off-label topical and oral JAK inhibitors are sometimes incorporated for the most severe patients who have failed all other options.

Overall, patient response to treatment and satisfaction with said response is lacking. The percent of vitiligo patients achieving an optimal response decreases as severity increases—roughly half of mild patients attain an optimal response while only one-in-five severe patients reach the same efficacy with treatment. When patients do experience a successful treatment response, it is often only short-lived, with reportedly half going on to experience a recurrence.

Despite this, the future of vitiligo is bright. When thinking about a new agent, dermatologists are seeking a product that can offer total re-pigmentation (100%), as well as long-term safety. Physicians would prefer an agent that offers topical dosing over oral dosing, partially due to increased safety concerns inherent to an oral agent. Physicians are most aware of and excited about JAK inhibitors for the treatment of vitiligo, and they anticipate long-term maintenance use of these therapies based on their mechanism of action.

As one surveyed dermatologist stated, “I anticipate long-term [use of JAK inhibitors] because the JAKs are not going to eliminate the central T-cells that are actually causing the problem. It just keeps those T-cells from going to the skin. And so, you will just need the JAKs long-term.”

While most physicians are aware of the FDA’s official class-wide JAK label update, dermatologists report that the label update is expected to have a less negative impact on their perception of Incyte’s topical JAK inhibitor, Opzelura, compared to oral JAK inhibitors in development including AbbVie’s Rinvoq, Pfizer’s ritlecitinib, and Incyte’s INCB54707.

Likely a result of the topical formulation, dermatologists estimate a higher percentage of their vitiligo patients will be candidates for Opzelura compared to ritlecitinib. Dermatologists are also more likely to prescribe Opzelura compared to ritlecitinib and anticipate using it sooner in their treatment algorithm.

Opzelura is currently under priority sNDA review accepted by the FDA, with a PDUFA date of July 18, 2022. Spherix will be tracking the launch of Opzelura as part of the Launch Dynamix™ series and continue to track the market in the Market Dynamix™ report.

Spherix also offers coverage of other emerging dermatologic conditions as part of their Market Dynamix™ service, including chronic spontaneous urticaria, prurigo nodularis, alopecia areata, and hidradenitis suppurativa.

About Market Dynamix™
Market Dynamix™ is an independent service providing analysis of markets anticipated to experience a paradigm shift within the next three to five years. Insights highlight market size, current treatment approaches, unmet needs, and expert opinions on the likely disruption introduced by pipeline agents.

Learn more about our services here.

About Spherix Global Insights
Spherix Global Insights is a hyper-focused market intelligence firm that leverages our own independent data and expertise to provide strategic guidance, so biopharma stakeholders make decisions with confidence. We specialize in select dermatology, rheumatology, gastroenterology, nephrology, and neurology markets.

All company, brand or product names in this document are trademarks of their respective holders.