Skip to NavigationSkip to content

Onyx to promote UCB narcolepsy drug

Published on 03/07/07 at 04:09pm

Onyx Health has been appointed to promote UCB Pharma's narcolepsy treatment Xyrem in the UK.

The orphan drug expanded its European licence in March when it was approved to treat narcolepsy with cataplexy in adults, making it the first drug to be given the green light for this indication in the region.

Onyx will run a media relations campaign to raise awareness of narcolepsy among the public and healthcare professionals and target PCT commissioners to ensure correct referral procedures are followed.

It is not known exactly how many people suffer from narcolepsy. Currently records show five cases for every 10,000 people, but this is thought to significantly under-represent the problem.

The debilitating, life-long disorder typically begins with excessive daytime sleepiness in patients in their 20s and 30s and usually progresses to include disturbed night-time sleep, cataplexy and sleep paralysis.

Prior to Xyrem's first European approval in 2005, treatment options were limited to Cephalon's 'wake promoter' Provigil (modafinil) or amphetamine-based stimulants like Celltech's Dexedrine (dexamphetamine).

Xyrem's initial licence was for the treatment of cataplexy in adult patients with narcolepsy. Cataplexy is a typical symptom of narcolepsy and present in 65-70% of patients with the condition. It involves a sudden reversible loss of muscle tone, usually triggered by emotional stimuli such as laughter.

Onyx Health was founded in 2003 by Karen Winterhalter, who will lead the Xyrem account and has more than 20 years' experience in the NHS, pharma industry and healthcare communications.

Whitehall-based Onyx's clients include Sanofi Pasteur MSD, Teva Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck, NV Organon Europe, the British Geriatrics Society and Cephalon, for which it promoted Provigil.


Mission Statement is a leading portal for the pharmaceutical industry, providing industry professionals with pharma news, pharma events, pharma service company listings and pharma jobs,
Site content is produced by our editorial team exclusively for and our industry newspaper Pharmafocus. Service company profiles and listings are taken from our pharmaceutical industry directory, Pharmafile, and presented in a unique Find and Compare format to ensure the most relevant matches