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Celgene touts improved access to psoriasis medicine Otezla in US market

Celgene Corp. said it is has increased U.S. market access to its blockbuster psoriasis medicine Otezla via managed care contracting, a development that will make it easier for up to 100 million patients to take the medication.

"These agreements should increase the speed and efficiency of patients' access, but will also increase our gross to net terms," Celgene CFO Peter Kellogg said during the U.S. drugmaker's Jan. 26 fourth-quarter earnings call. Kellogg advised Wall Street analysts to factor the change into their first-quarter financial models.

Otezla sales were $305 million in the fourth quarter and just above $1 billion during 2016, more than double the 2015 revenue.

Due to the increased contracting activity, an additional 70 million to 100 million "commercial lives" will have "biologic step-free" access to the medication, Celgene president of global inflammation and immunology Scott Smith said.

"Ninety percent of patients are coming to Otezla from something other than a biologic," Smith said. "Although in the past year, most patients prescribed Otezla were ultimately able to gain access, these new agreements will make it substantially easier for a large number of patients to initiate Otezla therapy."

Orally administered Otezla is not a biologic. Injectable, biologic drugs for the skin condition include AbbVie Inc.'s Humira and Johnson & Johnson's Stelara. According to company presentation slides, Otezla has a market share around 25%, just below that of Stelara's and compared to 35% for Humira.

In addition, Smith said Celgene is focused on introducing Otezla in a number of European countries and Japan in 2017. It is also enrolling patients in a clinical trial to expand the indication to include the bowel condition Crohn's disease.