Sanofi Transfers Afrezza Marketing Rights To MannKind Corporation

MannKind Corporation (NASDAQ:MNKD) has regained marketing rights to its inhaled insulin drug Afrezza. The Valencia-based company said in a statement Tuesday that the transition ensures that patients will continue to get their Afrezza treatment uninterrupted. Now that French drugmaker Sanofi has transferred commercialization rights to MannKind, the US biopharmaceutical company plans to start distributing Afrezza in the third quarter.

MannKind to start distribution in Q3

Afrezza won the US FDA approval in 2014. Last year, MannKind signed a deal with Sanofi to market its inhaled insulin product worldwide. But Sanofi terminated the agreement in January this year due to poor sales. Under the terms of the transfer agreement, Sanofi will continue to distribute Afrezza from its existing inventory. MannKind will kick off its own marketing and distribution in the third quarter.

MannKind executives had partially blamed Sanofi’s slow progress in getting insurance firms to accept the drug, for weak sales of Afrezza. The Valencia-based company’s chief executive Matthew Pfeffer promised to provide more details about the company’s commercial team for Afrezza and its plans for the future. In the past, he had outlined a series of marketing initiatives the company would take to raise consumer awareness and boost sales.

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Pfeffer plans to educate doctors and patients

Pfeffer’s proposed initiatives include the creation of an advisory council to educate patients and doctors about Afrezza, and launch of a social media campaign. He announced Tuesday that he would also make four presentations at the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting in June. Griffin Securities analyst Keith Markley said there is greater differentiation between Afrezza and other treatments currently available in the market than previously thought.

Pfeffer is widely expected to unveil his marketing plans for Afrezza at the ADA conference in June. He has an uphill task ahead. Even though the company has said it has enough cash to operate through the second half of the year, analysts believe MannKind could run out of cash. Its shares have declined close to 70% in the last 12 months.