UPDATED April 20, 2017
Recently, several articles have appeared that draw a number of erroneous conclusions about Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and its product H.P. Acthar Gel based on misinformation and a variety of distorted and conflated facts. Mallinckrodt disagrees with these views and offers the following basic, but important facts about this critical medicine.
H.P. Acthar Gel makes a significant difference in the lives of very sick patients with unmet medical needs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed the label in 2010, and determined there in fact was sufficient scientific and clinical evidence to support the 19 indications now in the current label. In most indications, H.P. Acthar Gel is a later line treatment, prescribed by skilled healthcare providers to a small subset of patients who need an alternative treatment option. H.P. Acthar Gel is a first line monotherapy treatment for infantile spasms (IS).
UPDATE: Body of Evidence
There is clinical evidence to support the effectiveness of H.P. Acthar Gel. For instance, two randomized clinical trials were conducted to support the effectiveness of the drug in obtaining FDA approval as a treatment for infantile spasms, one of which compared H.P. Acthar Gel to prednisone, where 86.7% of patients responded to H.P. Acthar Gel vs. 28.6% that responded to prednisone. The IS clinical trial results appear in Section 14 of the full prescribing information for the drug. A representative sampling of articles citing the clinical experience of the drug follow:
Significant additional evidence exists, including company-sponsored controlled clinical trials, investigator-initiated research conducted in top hospitals and medical centers by some of the country’s preeminent physicians, and health economic and outcomes research (HEOR) data. A bibliography referencing hundreds of studies related to H.P. Acthar Gel can be found on the company’s website, and press releases specific to company-sponsored trials for the product can also be found in the news section of the site. Equally important are the more than 50 years of clinical experience physicians have with the product as a demonstrated therapy for appropriate patients.
UPDATE: H.P. Acthar Gel Pricing
The current “list price” per vial for the drug is $36,382, not the higher numbers which have appeared in various reports, and Mallinckrodt discounts this list price to both public and private payers. Mallinckrodt takes our responsibility as a pharmaceutical manufacturer very seriously, and our pledge on drug pricing and innovation describes our philosophy around responsible pricing.
UPDATE: H.P. Acthar Gel Dosage
H.P. Acthar Gel is an injectable formulation, and therefore physicians have flexibility in dosing in order to prescribe and administer the amount of drug they believe is needed (based on clinical data and their own experience) to effectively treat their patient’s symptoms. This means that dosing may differ between the conditions it is used to treat and between individual patients.
There is no evidence - and Mallinckrodt has no reason to believe - that the amount of H.P. Acthar Gel prescribed to individual patients by their respective physicians is excessive. There may, however, be some confusion about the difference between dosages (USP units), and vials of H.P. Acthar Gel that could lead to misunderstanding about prescribing behavior by doctors. For reference, dosing information can be found in the FDA-approved prescribing information (label).
Specific to reimbursement, coverage gains among commercial payers has resulted in the overall payer mix for H.P. Acthar Gel between private and public plans becoming – and staying – relatively stable, and Mallinckrodt is seeing volume growth across both publicly and privately insured patients.
Medicare patients represent a slightly higher percentage of overall patients simply because presentation of expanding data sets to healthcare practitioners over time has resulted in increased usage in aging patient populations, particularly in the rheumatology and pulmonology spaces, where Medicare coverage is more likely to be utilized. An important point often overlooked is that the per-patient cost of H.P. Acthar Gel for Medicare reflects the relatively small numbers of patients being treated with the drug - consistent with its use for only the hard-to-treat patients for whom other alternatives have been ineffective or are no longer tolerated.
When you look at overall costs of the drug to the system as a whole, the drug is far, far down the list. Moreover, H.P. Acthar Gel is typically used episodically and acutely with patients, as opposed to a drug that is used regularly or chronically with patients. Additionally, these patients are often on concurrent treatments.
In the commercial reimbursement space, the majority of payers have an established pathway for the use of H.P. Acthar Gel in those patients for whom it is appropriately prescribed - those with conditions covered by the FDA-approved label and for whom the product’s extensive existing data and clinical experience support H.P. Acthar Gel’s use as a proven therapy. The prior-authorization and reimbursement processes used by commercial payers rely on these criteria.
As the company has stated consistently, Mallinckrodt’s goal has been - and continues to be – to acquire under-resourced, under-utilized products like H.P. Acthar Gel that are used in areas of high unmet medical need, typically in narrow patient populations, and then invest significantly in those products. The company invests by building an even larger body of evidence to demonstrate which patients can benefit most from the drug and shares that information with physicians and payers to ensure those patients can get access to the product. This strategy has been very successful, and in the roughly 2.5 years it has owned the product, Mallinckrodt has expanded the number of commercial lives under contract from zero to nearly 60%.
In that same period, Mallinckrodt has initiated three company-sponsored Phase 4 clinical trials for H.P. Acthar Gel (rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and focal segmental glomerulosclerosis). The company also announced a Phase 2 proof-of-concept trial to study the efficacy of the drug in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, for which there are very few effective treatment options available at present. All told, more than 800 patients will be enrolled in these company-sponsored, randomized controlled clinical trials to study H.P. Acthar Gel. Multiple sclerosis studies are also underway or nearing initiation, with studies for other indications under consideration.
These investments, plus manufacturing modernization, investing in safety stocks to ensure maximal product supply, other medical affairs and research activities, and HEOR studies bring the total investment in H.P. Acthar Gel to more than a quarter of a billion dollars since acquiring the product.
Mallinckrodt strongly believes in the product’s efficacy in its approved indications and will continue significant investment in H.P. Acthar Gel to ensure those patients who can benefit from the therapy have access to it.
About H.P. Acthar® Gel (repository corticotropin injection)
H.P. Acthar Gel is an injectable drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of 19 indications. Of these, today the majority of Acthar use is in these indications:
Important Safety Information
Please see full Prescribing Information here for additional Important Safety Information.
Mallinckrodt is a global business that develops, manufactures, markets and distributes specialty pharmaceutical products and therapies. Areas of focus include autoimmune and rare diseases in specialty areas like neurology, rheumatology, nephrology, pulmonology and ophthalmology; immunotherapy and neonatal respiratory critical care therapies; and analgesics and hemostasis products. The company's core strengths include the acquisition and management of highly regulated raw materials and specialized chemistry, formulation and manufacturing capabilities. The company's Specialty Brands segment includes branded medicines and its Specialty Generics segment includes specialty generic drugs, active pharmaceutical ingredients and external manufacturing. To learn more about Mallinckrodt, visit www.mallinckrodt.com.
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Coleman N. Lannum, CFA
Senior Vice President, Investor Strategy and IRO
Daniel J. Speciale, CPA
Director, Investor Relations
Senior Communications Manager
Chief Public Affairs Officer