Business

Biohaven braces for 'David versus Goliath' battle with Allergan over migraine medicine

by Bailey Lipschultz

Bloomberg

Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Co. is readying for what Chief Executive Officer Vlad Coric calls a “David versus Goliath” showdown with large-cap competitor Allergan PLC in a race to sell a new class of migraine medicines.

A potential first-quarter approval of Biohaven’s rimegepant, a medicine that has shown clinical success in treating migraines, would place it behind competitor Allergan’s expected approval next month. However, publications in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet medical journals paired with plans to use direct-to-consumer advertising may give Biohaven a leg up, Coric said.

“Telemedicine, e-commerce, social media; we’re going to incorporate a modern day launch with a traditional launch as well,” Coric said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters on Tuesday. “If you’re prepared to run your business — that will also open up a lot of optionality,” Coric added, when asked about plans for potential partnerships or deals to better compete with larger peers.

Coric said a potential partnership or deal would have to be more than an “incremental” step as the company looks to “build value year-over-year,” he said.

Biohaven — long the subject of deal speculation, including a Bloomberg report in April that the company was exploring a sale — has continued to build out a commercial team for the migraine drug. The New Haven, Connecticut-based company elected to raise roughly $300 million in a June public share offering to help bolster its cash reserves as it makes the jump from development to commercialization.

Upcoming results from a migraine prevention study of rimegepant could also position the company better to compete with Allergan as the maker of Botox gets closer to completing its sale to AbbVie Inc., according to Coric. If the results are positive in the coming months, “that would give patients one dose of one drug” to help both treat and prevent migraine attacks, he said.

Coric wants investors who may be focused solely on the regulatory decision for the company’s migraine drug to know that Biohaven will have data from other later-stage assets in the coming months. If successful, results from troriluzole in Alzheimer’s disease and generalized anxiety disorder may offer the drugmaker an opportunity to “transform,” he said.