Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (ACOR)

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Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. (ACOR)

Citi 2013 Global Healthcare Conference

February 27, 2013 1:30 pm ET


Ron Cohen - Founder, Chief Executive Officer, President and Director


Yaron Werber - Citigroup Inc, Research Division


Yaron Werber - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Good afternoon, everybody, and thank you once again for joining us at the Citi Health Global Healthcare Conference. It's a great pleasure to introduce Ron Cohen, who's the Chief Executive Officer at Acorda. So, Ron, thanks so much for joining us, we appreciate it. Ron has a little bit of laryngitis. He's definitely not going to sing for us, but we have a great microphone so that you can all hear him.

So let's start. We kind of want a few things to discuss. I want to talk about AMPYRA. Then I want to talk about pipeline, AMPYRA's pipeline and then the rest of the pipeline and then talk about diazepam.

So let's start with AMPYRA, and give us a little bit of a sense on -- I mean, you've given guidance, so we know what the outlook is for this year, but in terms of continuing to take action to stimulate demand and increased share, what's the biggest challenge facing in AMPYRA? Is it that -- it's already penetrated a good chunk of the patient's who have an urgent need, or is it still a question of convincing docs to adopt the drug earlier?

Ron Cohen

I think it's both. But you touched on a great point, which is we've had over 75,000 people with that mass already trial the drug since launch. We think that of the population, about 200,000 are eligible, are labeled to try the drug in terms of their level of walking impairment. So as you continue to penetrate into that addressable population, by definition, the next level of patient is more challenging to get in than the earlier ones were, because if they weren't, you've gotten to them by now. And that's either because your efforts hadn't succeeded in reaching them yet through whatever outlets you're using or your messaging has not been touching them in the right way. So you do have to continue to evolve your promotional program to reach those people who haven't been reached yet and also, to adjust and tailor the messaging in ways that you've learned over time are going to be appropriate for those patients. So in that sense, that's really where the challenge is. So you do have to continue to invest to bring them in. That said, it still means we have, let's call it 125,000 patients. So the majority of the patients that should be trying the drug are still out there available to us. And it's really a question of how well we execute to get to them. I think we've -- the thing that encourages me is that since launch, I look at how we started out and where we are today almost 3 years later. We have a much more sophisticated and granular understanding of the marketplace than we did in the first year or even last year, and we're continuing to build on that, as well as build databases that allow us to penetrate further. Now the other thing you mentioned was persuading prescribers to go further down the curve. In other words, people who are more mildly affected where it's actually impairing their lives. But if they walk into the office, it's not obvious, they're not using an assisted device, they're not using a cane. But in fact, if you quiz them, you'll find out, well, I'm not picking up my kids at school anymore or I'm not taking them to the park. My husband does that or the nanny does that, and that's really upsetting to me in my life. Those people deserve a shot as well. And so, what we've been doing there -- but maybe the most effective thing we've done to persuade prescribers to do that is the First Step Program. First Step Program, we really -- we've piloted it in '11, but we put it out in full in January of '12, and that's a 2-month, free trial of drug. The drug is delivered by mail order. It's dropped ship from specialty pharmacy, so you can't pick it up at retail pharmacies. So we can track this very well. And one of the issues we found was that physicians were reluctant to prescribe what, in some cases, they perceive to be an expensive drug for an earlier stage disability. So it took on a feeling for them of, well, this is a big gun and it needs to have a big symptom complex to use it. Once we went out and said, look, this is all on us. It's on the system, it's not on insurance. You just -- if you write it, the patient will get the drug very shortly thereafter, and then you have 2 months to see whether it's benefiting them or not. And if it is benefiting them, then you're happy to have them continue to take it. And if it's not benefiting, no one's lost anything except Acorda. And that perhaps has been the single most effective thing we've done to get the goodwill of the prescribers to go ahead and try it. Because now, the attitude is, all right, well, we have nothing to lose here, let's try it and see if it works.

Yaron Werber - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

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