Allergan sales forces previously working on GlaxoSmithKline headache drugs Imitrex and Amerge as part of a co-promotion will be reassigned to Botox, in support of the drug's new headache indication.
The move, confirmed by a company spokesperson, gives Allergan a jump start with headache specialists, since the GSK co-promotion deal was “a very good way for Allergan to learn the headache market,” Allergan CEO David Pyott told the Journal. Crystal Muilenburg, a spokesperson for Allergan, says that sales forces will initially target neurologists, pain, and headache specialists, to train them on Botox's “injection protocol and dosing regimen.” Muilenburg declined to estimate the number of reps that will support the headache indication, which received an FDA green light on October 15. GSK drugs Imitrex and Amerge have lost patent protection.
A key challenge that we started addressing immediately upon FDA approval is reimbursement,” said Muilenburg. “As with many new drugs, reimbursement is not widely established for Botox in this new therapeutic category.”
Physicians or patients looking for information on reimbursement can visit a dedicated website, call 1-800-44-BOTOX (option 4), or locate a Botox reimbursement business manager for “on-site education, training, and support,” according to the website. Physicians can also sign up to receive forthcoming treatment records and case studies on the headache indication, as they become available.
Allergan paid $600 million to settle Justice Department charges of off-label marketing in September, and pled guilty to marketing Botox off-label for conditions including headache. As part of the settlement, Allergan was forced to drop a First Amendment lawsuit challenging FDA policy on the exchange of “truthful scientific and medical information,” a spokesperson reported at the time. The pending approval in September of Botox for an ailment that previously existed as an off-label use sparked rumors about a relationship between Allergan's lawsuit and FDA's approval of the headache indication, rumors which Muilenburg quelled: “The FDA granted approval of Botox for the treatment of chronic migraine patients based on two phase III pivotal trials, and on its own merit,” she said. “The two actions are completely separate matters.”
Botox's headache indication, specifically, is for the prophylaxis of headaches in adult patients with chronic migraines. GCI Health has been awarded the PR account for the indication. Muilenburg declined to reveal other agency partners for the headache indication launch.