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Neurocrine launches Parkinson's therapy as COVID-19 related disruptions ease

By Dania Nadeem

Sept 14 (Reuters) – Neurocrine Biosciences Inc on Monday launched its add-on treatment for patients with Parkinson’s disease nearly five months after Food and Drug Administration’s approval, as the COVID-19 pandemic delayed its roll out in the United States.

Since the pandemic’s outbreak, drugmakers’ sales representative were restricted from meeting doctors busy with COVID-19 patients, but now they are open to such meetings to discuss new drugs. This made it an appropriate time to launch Ongentys, Neurocrine Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gorman said.

“We had two challenges that kept us from launching immediately after the approval. One was – there was big hiccup in the supply chain and then obviously COVID was very fresh and new at that point of time,” Gorman said.

Lockdowns led by the COVID-19 pandemic delayed or slowed the launch of several drugs as drugmakers faced disruptions to business after health authorities issued restrictions to control the fast spreading virus.

In April, Neurocrine said it was working on a supply issue with its partner, Portugal-based BIAL Portela & Ca SA.

Ongentys helps prolong the effect of levodopa, the standard of care drug for Parkinson’s. As the disease progresses, levodopa’s effectiveness wears off and patients begin to experience problems with their movement.

Neurocrine in June said that a month’s supply of the drug, approved by the FDA on April 24, would have a list price of $590, a little below the range of other similar drugs in the market that are priced at $670 a month.

(Reporting by Dania Nadeem in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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