MannKind announced recently that Dr. David Kendall will join the company as Chief Medical Officer (CMO). This position, which has been vacant at MannKind since September, is intended to help support ongoing clinical development around inhaled insulin Afrezza (and possibly other Technosphere products) as well as regulatory/medical affairs.
Dr. Kendall is already a heavy-hitter in diabetes. He previously served as Chief Scientific and Medical Officer of the ADA and most recently, was VP of Global Medical Affairs for Lilly Diabetes. Earlier, he served as Medical Director at the International Diabetes Center and at Amylin. The extensive experience Dr. Kendall has accumulated across clinical care, clinical research, and drug development bodes well for MannKind.
Afrezza has faced numerous commercial obstacles to-date, including termination of the Sanofi partnership in January 2016 and relaunch of MannKind-branded Afrezza in August 2016 (at which point, MannKind had to pivot from a predominantly manufacturing company to a commercial company as well). Afrezza could be at a turning point after a new FDA label update to reflect its ultra-rapid PK/PD profile. This ultra-rapid-acting label claim differentiates the product from other prandial competitors, namely Lilly’s Humalog and Novo Nordisk’s NovoLog. It could boost sales – and we’ll be looking for this during MannKind’s 4Q17 update – although spreading awareness of Afrezza’s newfound classification will take time. Dr. Kendall could play a key role in rolling out this label update and disseminating pertinent medical information about Afrezza’s faster onset/offset.
On the heels of this label update, Afrezza performed relatively well in 3Q17: New-to-brand prescription volume (NBRx) rose 37% sequentially and total prescriptions (TRx) rose 29% sequentially, but the product’s $2 million in 3Q17 revenue represents just a tiny sliver of the ~$1.6 billion/quarter rapid-acting insulin market. We hope Dr. Kendall can help MannKind seize this momentum so that Afrezza realizes its full commercial potential – and we expect that based on all his successes, he’ll be able to. We do expect he’ll be staying very busy!
-- by Abigail Dove, Payal Marathe, and Kelly Close