Isn't that a great name?
I have to wonder how much they paid the person who thought it up. It has a cool ring and the letters "X" and "V" (according to my friends who do sales, these, along with "Z", are considered "power letters", and putting them in words is supposed to connote something impressive).
With a name like that you'd think the drug was new, powerful, groundbreaking.
Extavia! NEW! For Multiple Sclerosis!
Released to the neurology world recently with hoopla, ads, drug rep lunches, etc.
Would you believe that Extavia is over 15 years old, and is being used to launch a drug that isn't even on the market yet?
Here's the story: Betaseron (Beta Interferon 1b) has been on the U.S market since the early 90's. It was the first drug ever approved for MS, and certainly is a decent drug. I prescribe my share of it. It's manufactured by Bayer.
Novartis, another pharmaceutical company, is developing a new MS drug, which it hopes to bring to market in the next 6-18 months.
But Novartis has no MS drug currently out there (though they do have 3 big neurological ones under patent). So they decided that, to get a foot in the MS marketing door now, they should hire a bunch of new reps (though they already have a fairly well-trained neurology sales force), and train them to market MS drugs. This is hard to do when you don't have one.
So they bought a license from Bayer to sell Betaseron, too, to get their reps some practice. But, since they didn't want to market plain old, early-90's Betaseron, they renamed it Extavia! New name! New marketing! Same drug! Same dosing! Same everything except the name (actually, I think the price is slightly lower)!
And, of course, Betaseron is still on the market. In fact, Bayer is making all the Extavia, too. So Bayer is likely going to clean up on the deal, since they get paid regardless of which gets prescribed.
I suspect Novartis will not make money on this, and is using Extavia as a loss leader, hoping to make the money back when the new drug comes out in a year or two.
On the one hand, I think it's good that they're hiring a new sales force to sell Extavia and future drug. Certainly, jobs are good for the economic recovery.
But on the other hand, it still seems kind of silly to me. Like I said, though, I'm not a marketing person.