Senior Director, AYVAKIT Brand Lead
In this new era of precision medicine there’s no shortage of exciting drugs in the pipeline or companies broadcasting long-term plans that could change the face of oncology and rare disease. Blueprint Medicines has been on the forefront of this new wave, which originally attracted Zach Crouch, PharmD to join this growing Cambridge, MA company in 2017. Zach led a talented team through their first commercial launch of AYVAKIT (avapritinib), the first FDA-approved tyrosine kinase inhibitor for people with a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) who have a PDGFRA exon 18 mutation. In doing so, he ensured this new treatment could reach patients historically without options as fast as possible.
That is nothing new for Zach, who in his previous role at Seattle Genetics, led a team of six responsible for all commercial activities for ADCETRIS (brentuximab vedotin) for lymphoma in U.S. and Canada. And now at Blueprint Medicines, he marshalled the talents within his own organization and external partners to develop a clear value proposition and platform for the brand.
AYVAKIT’s launch campaign to reach appropriate prescribers has been laser focused on a tightly defined target. Branded media (programmatic, display, paid search, sponsored content, and email) surpassed rare disease and oncology benchmarks earlier than expected. Market research showed unaided awareness of AYVAKIT, the first new option in GIST in years, among target physicians increased from less than 10% just six months ago to over 50% in the initial weeks of the launch.
The response from the broader GIST community has also been gratifying. Speaking to The Boston Globe in an article at the time of approval, Dr. Suzanne George of Dana Farber Cancer Institute noted that AYVAKIT will “change the standard of care for this particular subset of patients with GIST…if you ask me, it already has. The response rate is occurring in almost all the patients treated.”
Internally, Blueprint Medicines management and Zach are happy with the early launch performance but are not resting on their laurels as they now have the opportunity to rapidly expand the label for AYVAKIT both in the U.S. and globally to reach an even greater number of patients.