MannKind Corporation, Sanofi Launch Afrezza In The U.S.

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Analysts expect Afrezza to generate $182 million in annual sales through 2019

MannKind’s inhaled insulin Afrezza is now available by prescription in the United States. MannKind’s global marketing partner Sanofi announced Tuesday that the U.S. retail pharmacies have started selling the only inhaled insulin. Afrezza is expected to boost the French drugmaker’s flagging diabetes drug sales. Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly are giving Sanofi some tough competition for sales of traditional injectable insulin.

MannKind’s drug expected to generate $182M in annual sales

Developed by MannKind, Afrezza promises to be more convenient than injectable insulin. But it is surrounded by a number of concerns after the failure of Pfizer’s inhaled insulin Exubera. Pfizer’s drug won the USFDA approval in 2006, and experts were expecting it to be a blockbuster.

However, it failed to generate decent sales because patients were turned off by the need for frequent lung tests, and the bulkiness of inhaler. In October 2007, Pfizer had to discontinue the production and sales of Exubera due to poor sales. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect Afrezza to generate $182 million in annual sales through 2019.

Afrezza is a drug-device combination that uses a whistle-size inhaler to deliver a dry formulation of insulin. It controls blood sugar levels in Type 1 as well as Type 2 diabetes. Patients need to administer it at the beginning of a meal. MannKind’s drug was approved by the FDA in June last year, but there are a few strings attached.

Afrezza an important addition to Sanofi’s portfolio

Afrezza cannot be prescribed to patients with asthma or other lung complications. It is also not recommended for patients who smoke or have recently quit smoking. In August 2014, MannKind signed worldwide licensing agreement with Sanofi to sell Afrezza. Under the terms of the deal, MannKind received $150 million in upfront payment. The U.S. company stands to receive another $775 million in various milestone payments, plus 35% of the future profits.

Afrezza is considered an important addition to Sanofi’s diabetes drug portfolio. The French company’s diabetes division raked in $7 billion in sales last year. But patent on its blockbuster Lantus drug is set to expire this year, prompting the company to look for new products like Afrezza. The company has also developed an improved version of Lantus called Toujeo.

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