Source: Missy Crane

Right now there’s a race between several pharma companies to be the first to get an FDA-approved alopecia drug on the market.

And Pfizer, who was behind in this race, is taking the lead.

There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for alopecia, an autoimmune disease characterized by hair loss, but multiple drugs could come to market in the indication over the coming years.

Pfizer’s ritlecitinib joined Lilly and Incyte’s Olumiant on the list of drugs to hit the primary endpoint in pivotal alopecia trials — and Concert Pharmaceuticals is following closely behind.

What’s interesting is that Pfizer just hosted the Oscars, where, oddly enough, everything centered on alopecia.

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The entire world is now talking about alopecia, thanks to the “slap” that happened at the Oscars between Will Smith and Chris Rock.

Jada Pinkett Smith, Will’s wife, claims she has alopecia.

And just 15 days ago, it was reported by Pharm Biz that Pfizer completed their acquisition of clinical-stage pharma company “Arena Pharma,” which specializes in alopecia studies, among other things.

Arena Pharmaceuticals brings to Pfizer a portfolio of diverse and promising development-stage therapeutic candidates in gastroenterology, dermatology, and cardiology, including etrasimod, an oral, selective sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptor modulator currently in development for a range of immuno-inflammatory diseases including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, atopic dermatitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, and alopecia areata.

Lilly was leading the alopecia race, but Pfizer has now come in from behind.

This has sparked a new conspiracy theory after it was discovered that Pfizer actually sponsored the Oscars.

FiercePharma reported that Oscar-winning actor Will Smith slapping comedian Chris Rock made the biggest headlines out of the Oscars Sunday night. But the sponsorship from Pfizer and COVID shot partner BioNTech was for the pharma marketing world a bigger moment.

The vaccine-making pair, which teamed up two years ago and produced the world’s biggest-selling product last year in Comirnaty, their COVID-19 shot, joined forces again to sponsor the biggest night in Hollywood.

“Pfizer and BioNTech are proud to support the Oscars, and we are heartened to see the film industry gather in person and alongside fans to celebrate the talent and artistry produced during the past year,” a Pfizer spokesperson told Fierce Pharma Marketing.

Watch:

https://www.tiktok.com/embed/v2/7080402796280876334?lang=en-US&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwaynedupree.com%2F2022%2F03%2Fpfizer-oscars-alopecia-drug%2F

Pharma Forum reported that Eli Lilly and Incyte have another rival in the rear-view mirror for Olumiant in alopecia areata after Pfizer reported that its ritlecitinib improved scalp hair regrowth in a late-stage trial.

In the phase 2b/3 ALLEGRO trial, JAK inhibitor ritlecitinib hit its primary objective of improving the area of scalp covered by hair in people with this autoimmune form of hair loss, giving Pfizer a positive readout in the first of two trials that will form the basis of regulatory filings for the drug.

The trial recruited 719 people with at least 50% scalp hair loss at baseline, who were treated with one of two doses of ritlecitinib (30mg or 50mg once-daily) or placebo, with or without a high-dose (200mg) induction period lasting four weeks.

At both doses, ritlecitinib (also known as PF-06651600) was significantly more effective than placebo in regrowing hair so that patients had 80% scalp coverage, as measured by the Severity of Alopecia Tool (SALT) score.

Lilly and Incyte’s already-marketed JAK inhibitor Olumiant (baricitinib) is currently in the lead among drugs for alopecia areata, with a filing due in the second half of this year after two positive phases 3 trials.

Fierce Biotech reported that Pfizer’s alopecia therapy has been linked to a reduction in hair loss in early topline clinical data, setting the stage for a scrap with Eli Lilly and Incyte in the title fight for a potential blockbuster opportunity.

Ritlecitinib has met its primary endpoint in a phase 2b/3 clinical trial of patients with alopecia areata, Pfizer reported Wednesday. The update on the JAK3/TEC inhibitor comes months after Eli Lilly and Incyte reported late-phase success in alopecia.

The conspiracy theory is interesting on the surface, but when you look deeper, the drugs aren’t even set to hit the market for years.

Most expect the drugs won’t hit the market until 2025, although that could change based on trials.

There are currently no FDA-approved treatments for alopecia, an autoimmune disease characterized by hair loss, but multiple drugs could come to market in the indication over the coming years. Pfizer’s ritlecitinib joined Lilly and Incyte’s Olumiant on the list of drugs to hit the primary endpoint in pivotal alopecia trials —and Concert Pharmaceuticals is following closely behind.

It is more likely that Pfizer was sponsoring the event to promote their COVID vaccine, but I’ll admit that it is curious that now, the entire world is talking about alopecia as this “race” for a treatment heats up.

I am sure that Pfizer isn’t disappointed about that; after all, awareness is their number one marketing tool, which is why US drug companies market to Americans using commercials with catchy jingles and very marketable cutesy names for their drugs.

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