Merck KGaA’s Mavenclad stakes its claim in massively competitive MS market

Merck KGaA’s Mavenclad stakes its claim in massively competitive MS market

Merck KGaA’s Mavenclad hit €321 million ($358 million) in sales in 2019. (Merck KGaA)

In an increasingly crowded multiple sclerosis market, Merck KGaA’s Mavenclad has scrapped for market share against behemoths such as Roche’s Ocrevus. But a year into its U.S. launch, Mavenclad is posting exponential growth.

In 2019, Mavenclad raked in €321 million ($358 million) in global sales, a more than 250% increase from the €90 million it posted the previous year.

That significant leap has more than offset the sales loss from Merck KGaA’s older MS med Rebif and represents a more than 5% share of the global MS market––up from 1% at the end of 2018, the drugmaker said. 

Merck KGaA tied Mavenclad’s strong performance directly to its FDA approval in March, which made the drug the only oral short-term therapy for MS in the relapsing-remitting and active secondary progressive settings, the company said. 

RELATED: In crowded MS market, Merck KGaA’s Mavenclad now offsets Rebif decline

Of course, Mavenclad’s success on U.S. shores wasn’t guaranteed.

Take Novartis’ Mayzent, for example: Approved in March just days before Mavenclad, Mayzent notched just $17 million in global sales in 2019.

Of course, Mayzent, approved for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, is facing some additional obstacles. “We have always said that the first 12 months with Mayzent would be about education,” Novartis’ pharma chief Marie-France Tschudin said on an earnings call in October. “The challenge is that [physicians] are not diagnosing SPMS, and that is because there [have] been no effective therapies until now. So this means we need to change habits, and that takes time.”

RELATED: Biogen’s Tecfidera holds its own in MS as competitive and generic threats loom

Despite Mavenclad’s fast start, the drug still faces an uphill climb against Roche’s fast-growing MS med Ocrevus, which raked in CHF 3.71 billion ($3.9 billion) in global 2019 sales to mark a 57% increase on the year.

And there are bigger fish to fry, too: Biogen’s Tecfidera hit $4.43 billion in sales last year, though its follow-up, Vumerity, posted just $5 million in sales during the same span. 

Meanwhile, Novartis’ other MS drug, blockbuster Gilenya, hit $3.22 billion in sales for the year. In December, the FDA approved the first three generic versions of Gilenya, which will be made by HEC Pharm, Biocon and Sun Pharmaceutical. Due to a federal court ruling, those copycats won’t likely hit the U.S. market until 2027. 

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