Aimmune Says Patients Begin Treatment With Peanut Allergy Drug as COVID-19 Lockdowns Ease

By Carl O'Donnell and Manas Mishra

July 06, 2020

(Reuters) - Aimmune Therapuetics Inc said its peanut allergy drug, whose launch had been paused because of coronavirus lockdowns, is again being administered to patients as allergy specialists reopen, the drugmaker's executives told Reuters on Thursday.

Patient uptake of Palforzia could accelerate further later in the summer as recently-reopened allergist practices work through a backlog of patients, they added.

Aimmune was forced to pause its Palforzia launch shortly after its January approval by U.S. regulators after nationwide lockdowns shut down allergists' offices across the United States.

Palforzia is the first treatment for peanut allergy in patients and works by exposing patients to small doses of the allergen. Its U.S. approval came with a host of restrictions, including requiring initial doses to be administered under the supervision of allergists.

"(Doctors) are having to deal with that backlog before they start putting on meaningful numbers of Palforzia patients," said Aimmunte's Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Oxtoby in an interview with Reuters. He added the company would share more details on the number of prescribers when it reports quarterly earnings.

Aimmune has not shared revenue estimates for Palforzia.

Palforzia is one of five recently approved drugs to see launch delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launching drugs is an expensive and complicated process that includes sales representatives talking to doctors, coordinating supplies and treatment with pharmacies and clinics, and advertising campaigns - many of which have become harder during lockdowns or other restrictions to tackle the pandemic.

"Our first patient was dosed on Friday, March 13 and the first shutdown order came the following Monday," said Jayson Dallas, chief executive officer of Aimmune. "It was almost like the perfect storm."

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