King launches Embeda with kid gloves

Share this article:
King's launch of Embeda, a pain drug containing morphine, demonstrates that even supposedly abuse-resistant narcotic products need to take a careful approach in their marketing.

Embeda is an extended-release analgesic combining morphine sulfate with naltrexone, a substance designed to reduce morphine's effect. Tamper with it, and the naltrexone is released, but the formulation has not been shown to confer abuse resistance.

Following an FDA warning letter in October for a VNR, the firm is taking extra care. Professional ads launched in November feature a five-page ad running in primary care titles, four-and-a-half of those pages devoted to risk info. Without sampling or traditional advertising allowed, launch expenditures are also going into educational materials used by reps, speaker-training meetings and speaker programs to educate the marketplace about Embeda.

“We're using an annotated package insert to work with doctors,” Jack Howarth, King's VP, investor relations told MM&M. “Communications are strictly controlled by FDA and DDMAC. We're being very careful to work with them on everything we do.”

This launch “will be heavily channeled through medical education and direct sales-force involvement, because…there are limitations in how you can promote opioids,” King CEO Brian Markison said back in August.
The FDA had said the VNR omitted risks—including that patients could die from chewing, crushing or dissolving the pill—and made misleading claims.

Embeda netted $11 million in third-quarter sales, and King has filed two other abuse-deterrent opioids—Acurox and Remoxy.

King's “leadership in abuse-deterrent opioids is underappreciated,” wrote Collins Stewart analyst Louise Chen in a note. “We estimate that [these products] could be a multi-billion dollar opportunity at branded drug prices.”

Share this article:
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.

Next Article in Features

Email Newsletters

MM&M Future Leaders

Register now

Early bird $1,950 before 31 October 2014

*Group discounts available on request 


Patient access to pharmaceuticals is a tale of two worlds—affordability has improved for the majority, while the minority is hampered by cost, distribution and red tape. To provide marketers with a well-rounded perspective, MM&M presents this e-book chock full of key insights. Click here to access it.

More in Features

Headliner: HealthSpot's teleconnected CEO

Headliner: HealthSpot's teleconnected CEO

Steve Cashman, Founder and CEO, HealthSpot

Recruitment: The New Breed

Recruitment: The New Breed

What do healthcare agencies really want when it comes to potential employees? The answer to that question is in a constant state of flux, as technologies, clients' changing demands and ...

Read the complete September 2014 Digital Edition

Read the complete September 2014 Digital Edition

Click the above link to access the complete Digital Edition of the September 2014 issue of MM&M, with all text, charts and pictures.