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* Late-stage data being presented at ASH meeting
* Tasigna expected to replace older drug Glivec as it loses patent protection
ZURICH, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Novartis's blood cancer drug Tasigna is more effective at treating a type of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) than the Swiss drugmaker's older drug Glivec, late-stage trial data showed, in the latest boost to the group's oncology franchise.
The data, which are being presented at the American Society of Hematology's annual meeting, further underscore the promising prospects for Tasigna, which is tipped to have sales of around $2.5 billion by 2016, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The Phase III ENESTcmr trial looked at the impact of switching adult patients with residual disease after a minimum of two years of treatment with Glivec to Tasigna to see if a deeper level of response could be reached.
The results showed a two-fold difference in confirmed undetectable complete molecular response for 13 percent of patients on Tasigna compared with 6 percent of patients on Glivec, though Novartis said statistical significance was not reached.
Meanwhile follow-up data from the ENESTnd trial after 36 months showed that Tasigna was better at slowing progression of newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukaemia than Glivec.
Novartis, which is increasingly focusing on more specialist drugs, is banking on its newest drugs to help it navigate the loss of exclusivity on top-selling drugs such as blood pressure medicine Diovan.