Sanofi reported in April that MannKind’s inhaled insulin drug Afrezza generated only $1.1 million in sales in the first two months of its launch. The Valencia, California-based company has argued that its marketing partner Sanofi was conducting a “slow launch on purpose.” The French drugmaker has also said in the past that the initial rollout of Afrezza was “targeted and focused” on raising awareness about the treatment and its appropriate usage.
Afrezza prescriptions even lower than Exubera?
Now Adam Feuerstein of The Street says that Afrezza prescriptions have been even lower than Pfizer’s Exubera, which itself was a failure. Pfizer had to withdraw Exubera from the market due to poor sales. Feuerstein’s statement is based on data from Bloomberg and IMS Health. He says Afrezza is having “no impact at all” on market share of rival injectable insulins. So, is Afrezza turning into a dud? It’s probably too early to say that.
MannKind’s drug has only 0.10% market share after five months of launch despite the backing on Sanofi, which has extensive expertise in diabetes treatment. The U.S. biopharma company is looking to succeed where the awkwardly large Exubera failed. Afrezza is a convenient inhaled insulin that, despite regulatory concerns, has received rave reviews from early adopters.
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MannKind witnesses steep decline in short interest
RBC Capital Markets and Jefferies, two research firms that have been keeping close tabs on Afrezza prescriptions, remain bullish. Jefferies said last month that Afrezza sales would pick up in the third quarter as Sanofi and MannKind launch a massive direct to consumer (DTC) advertising campaign. Earlier this week, RBC Capital Markets reaffirmed its Outperform rating on the stock with $10 price target. Jefferies has a $9 price target.
Meanwhile, MannKind is planning to triple the production capacity at its Danbury plant to meet the potential demand. Short interest in MannKind fell sharply from 131.15 million shares on May 29 to 120.42 million on June 15, the latest date for which data is available. It represents 8.2% decline in short interest. Based on the average daily trading volume of 14.89 million shares, it would take eight days to cover the short positions, down from 12.36 days on May 29th.