MannKind Corporation’s Afrezza Yet To Gain Doctors’ Trust

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Last week, Jefferies analyst Shaunak Deepak said that MannKind’s Afrezza sales will get a big boost in the third quarter. The U.S. biopharmaceutical firm and its marketing partner Sanofi are gearing up to launch an aggressive advertising campaign to raise awareness about Afrezza. Deepak issued a new research report on Tuesday after holding talks with doctors.

Jefferies maintains ‘Buy’ rating on MannKind

Jefferies maintains its Buy rating on the stock with $9 price target. In his research note titled “Positive Physician Feedback from ADA,” Deepak said, at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) meeting, he spoke to 20 U.S. physicians “who were familiar with Afrezza.” Only six of them said they had prescribed Afrezza to date. It may disappoint some investors considering the drug is backed by mighty Sanofi.

One of the 20 physicians was “fundamentally concerned” about prescribing the drug. The physician said he was worried about the delivery of insulin into the lung. Two pediatric endocrinologists said they would not prescribe Afrezza until the drug receives US FDA approval for use in children. However, one of the pediatric endocrinologists said he would take MannKind’s inhaled insulin himself if he were diabetic.

MannKind’s drug having access issues?

Another three physicians working for the VA/DOD were unable to get access to Afrezza. One asserted that the drug would never be put on the formulary, while another was hoping for a broad government contract. Five other physicians cited the need for prior authorization or its cost as the key reason for not prescribing Afrezza. FDA requires that patients take a lung test before they can be prescribed MannKind’s drug. Some doctors avoid having to meet yet another requirement in their already busy schedules.

It’s ironic that despite so many concerns expressed by physicians, Jefferies’ research note is titled “Positive Physician Feedback from ADA.” Afrezza generated only $1.1 million in sales in the first two months of its launch. Early in its launch, a doctor had two patients who discontinued MannKind’s drug due to cough and compliance.

MannKind shares rose 2.09% to $6.84 at 9:34 AM EDT on Wednesday.


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