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Depomed Idea Proposal (DEPO)

Depomed Idea Proposal (DEPO)

Research Question: Will Depomed’s Nucynta and Nucynta ER achieve blockbuster status as it takes on OxyContin with acute pain patients and Lyrica/Cymbalta with neuropathic pain patients?

Report Available: Oct. 29, 2015


Blueshift’s initial research shows DEPO sold $57 million worth of painkiller Nucynta in its first quarter and believes it has the potential to reach $1 billion in sales annually. Nucynta has proven to be an effective painkiller with supposedly less addiction risk than other opioid drugs. However, reps who sold the drug pre-acquisition complained it was a tough sell and questioned whether physicians would consider prescribing it for diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).



  1. Depomed has built a solid portfolio of pain medication via an acquisition and relaunch strategy, growing its product revenue from $27 million to $320 million in just three years. Its recently-purchased Nucynta will contribute the most to its top line withthe potential for $1 billion per year inrevenue before its patent runs out in 2023. Depomed has faced several patent disputes and is also fighting a hostile takeover attempt.
  2. The Nucynta franchise may achieve high adoption rates since the drug shows similar efficacy rates toOxyContinbut with potentially lower side effects and addiction risk. DEPO has stepped up Nucynta’s sales and marketing efforts including a digital marketing campaign, and increased its price by 44%. Nucynta ER was already observed increasing its market share in July. DEPO claimed Nucynta ER was never fully launched for the diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) indication and will be a key area of focus in its relaunch.
  3. Some drug reps that marketed Nucynta before DEPO acquired it struggled to convince physicians to adopt it: Physicians claimed their patients who had been on oxycodone or hydrocodone for many years were not getting the same relief from Nucynta. A 2014 study found that some physicians were not comfortable prescribing a class II narcotic for DPN, and went on to label it a third-tier drug for the indication. Some higher-dosed Nucynta patients reported euphoria and withdrawal symptomscaused by both opioid and SNRI withdrawal. A September report from a patient who had not hit his deductible reported Nucynta’s one month prescription cost at $1000.



Will DEPO’s remarketing and rebranding efforts cause Nucynta’s sales to skyrocket? Will physicians view the drug any differently than before? To gain insight into  DEPO and Nucynta, Blueshift will gather data and issue a market research report from independent sources in the following areas: Physicians and medical professionals, Pain medication sales professionals, Pharmacists, and Industry specialists.


Companies: Depomed (DEPO), Horizon Pharma plc (HZNP), Endo International plc (ENDP), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Allergan plc (ACT), Pfizer (PFE), Merck (MRK), Eli Lilly (LLY), AbbVie (ABBV), Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals (MNK)