MannKind (NASDAQ:MNKD) is making efforts to differentiate its diabetes product from other more well established products on the market. The company participated in the American Diabetes Association Scientific Conference this weekend and had several posters published at the event.
Data presented is not necessarily new, but it can often be an assessment of clinical trial data that has been ongoing for a length of time. Two key presentation points at the confernce were the speed of onset and the duration. The company indicated that its Afrezza performed better than Lispro in these critical metrics.
"Data presented at ADA show Afrezza has a 25-to 35-minute faster onset of action than Lispro, with a duration that is up to two hours shorter"
The news and posters coming out of the conference are all getting releases and are points of discussion today. Many companies participate, and many companies offer up data that touts their own products. It should not come as a shock to anyone that any company would identify the positive attributes of its product when in comparison to another.
What investors need to grasp is how the data presented in posters might impact the ability to market the product, assist in bringing about a label change with new data or a new indication, or how the medical and insurance community may respond to the data presented.
In my opinion the data presented by MannKind is all positive and will certainly help any sales reps in the longer term in trying to market the drug not only to doctors, but to insurance companies as well.
In my opinion the data presented and released earlier today is accretive to the longer term Afrezza story more-so than the near term story. Given MannKind's current cash position and the status of marketing Afrezza by itself, the positive data will have a difficult journey in getting the attention it needs. This is where a sizable marketing partner or having enough cash to bring a larger campaign to the table would be paramount.
What is plain to see is that as positive as the data presented is, the street is not showing it much appreciation. Whether readers agree or disagree as to the importance of this data, the simple fact is that the MannKind story may be more reliant on the MannKind ability to tell it in a widespread fashion more-so than whether or not Afrezza can be deemed superior to existing treatments.
Make no mistake, being faster acting and having a shorter duration are huge selling points. That message alone, in the right situation could be a type of catalyst that can bring about material changes. That being said, the upfront challenges of getting lung function tests accomplished and learning the dosing that works are hurdles that work against a quick doctor and consumer uptake of MannKind's Afrezza.
From an outsiders perspective my concern is not with Afrezza itself. My concern is the ability of a cash strapped MannKind to change the diabetes narrative dominated by massive big pharma players and dollars. Indeed, Afrezza can be life changing for some patients, but a grass-roots campaign often lacks the energy and consistent message that is needed to convince the masses.
I do not expect the MannKind sales effort to deliver big numbers quickly. I do expect the team to try its best, present a simplified and consistent message, and try to get sales to a point where the company can obtain needed cash to take the next steps.
Many MannKind investors have been critical of Sanofi (NYSE:SNY). Sanofi did lay a decent foundation from which to build. That is the foundation that MannKind will begin to take the next steps from. It is interesting that so many MannKind investors are believing that Sanofi did nothing yet expect a smaller and more cash strapped sales force to perform better as if MannKind has no foundation to build from. In the deal between MannKind and Sanofi, the effort was a collaborative one.
What appears to be happening with this drug is a retention issue. Simply stated, consumers are not staying on the drug. The three critical points that the new sales team needs to address are patient education of getting to proper use of Afrezza, fast acting results, and shorter duration. The posters presented this weekend help to address the second and third point, but do little to address the first.
As an investor I try to err on the side of caution when it comes to speculative plays. Sometimes that caution is remaining on the sideline. Sometimes it is limiting the value of my investment. Sometimes it is relying on past experiences with companies in similar situations.
MannKind has a decent product in Afrezza. It has decent data to work with. It lacks cash and experience in marketing. I would err on the side of caution and assume that the sales force will have a hard time getting numbers up to what is needed prior to the cash situation getting desperate. Stay Tuned!
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.