Thursday, January 22, 2009

Narcolepsy - a small market capable of launching blockbuster therapeutics

Although representing a total market of just $230 million narcolepsy offers an entry point for blockbuster products

Still a small market, sales of narcolepsy therapeutics have increased by approximately six-fold over the last 4 years, reaching $230m in 2007. This rapid expansion is mainly due to
better awareness of the disorder, and the significant penetration of two approved treatments,
Provigil (modafinil, Cephalon) and Xyrem (sodium oxybate, Jazz Pharma).

Yet narcolepsy driven sales belies the bigger picture for products such as Provigil.

Cephalon’s Provigil has become the clear narcolepsy market leader with 2007 indication-specific sales of $166 million. Despite this modest revenue stream the total brand sales were $852 million in 2007. One of the reasons for this is Cephalon’s label expansion efforts.

Provigil’s label now includes obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome and shift work sleep

The main threat to Provigil comes from generic incursion expected from 2012 and also Xyrem. Cephalon has attempted to throw down barriers to generic incursion largely through the development of Nuvigil, a reformulation of modafinil. On the other hand threats from Xyrem have been minimized by its black box warning. This is despite the fact that Xyrem has the advantage of being approved for both major symptoms: excessive daytime sleepiness and cataplexy.

Consequantly, Xyrem’s sales are substantially lower than that of Provigil at only $42.3m across the seven major markets in 2007.

So there is room for novel compounds within the narcolepsy market – primary those with improved efficacy and safety. Developers should not be put off by the relatively low value of this market. Targeting narcolepsy as a primary indication and then expanding represents a strategy proven by Provigil.

Read more about the narcolepsy market and how it offers a stepping stone to much greater sales in our new feature "Narcolepsy - Entry-point to a lucrative fatigue-associated market" or request sample pages from the report by contacting


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