Novartis ends migraine war with Amgen as it cedes Aimovig control in US

The Swiss drugmaker cedes U.S. sales to rival, but retains rights to sell drug elsewhere except Japan.

When Novartis and Amgen launched Aimovig (erenumab) back in May 2018, it was the first-in-class Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitor for preventing migraines, and the first preventative migraine therapy in almost a decade. The partnership was hailed, and blockbuster aspirations soon followed. With Eli Lilly and Teva also nearing the launch of their follow-on anti-CGRP drugs, Novartis and Amgen made the most of their “first-on-the-scene” status. Total weekly prescriptions for the drug soared to nearly 10,000 within three months and thousands of patients are reported to have started treatment by the 10th week of sales. However, about a year into the launch, the honeymoon came to an end and lawsuits from both sides followed thereafter.

In April 2019, Amgen moved to terminate the partnership, claiming the Swiss giant was aiding a potential competitor after Novartis' Sandoz partnered with Alder BioPharmaceuticals on a rival anti-CGRP drug. The latter disputed the claims and filed its own lawsuit. However, with the injectable monoclonal antibody market looking very different to how it did in 2018, Novartis seems to have lost interest in continuing the fight and recently announced it would cede U.S. sales to Amgen. With Teva’s Ajovy and Eli Lilly’s Emgality having established themselves since then, and Aimovig reporting sluggish sales, the timing of the decision doesn’t seem too surprising. Novartis will, however, retain the right to sell Aimovig outside of the U.S., except in Japan.