* Late-stage data being presented at ASH meeting
* Novartis banking on Tasigna to replace older drug Glivec
* Drugmaker plans trials to explore treatment free remission
ZURICH, Dec 10 Novartis AG's blood
cancer drug Tasigna is better at treating a type of chronic
myeloid leukaemia than its older drug Glivec, according to data
from two late-stage trials, boosting prospects for its oncology
Novartis is hoping to convince doctors to switch patients to
Tasigna to shield its sales once Glivec, one of its best-selling
medicines, loses patent exclusivity in 2015.
The latest data, which are being presented at the American
Society of Hematology's (ASH) annual meeting, examined the
benefits of Tasigna in patients with Philadelphia
chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukaemia.
Two-year data from the ENESTcmr trial showed patients who
still had evidence of residual disease after long-term treatment
with Glivec achieved undetectable levels of the disease after
switching to Tasigna.
More than twice as many patients treated with Tasigna
continued to show undetectable levels of the disease compared
with Glivec, according to the data. Novartis said the results
were statistically significant.
Meanwhile, four-year data from the ENESTnd trial showed more
than three times as many patients being treated with Tasigna as
a frontline therapy experienced a reduction in the level of
disease versus Glivec.
Novartis plans to start a clinical trial programme in early
2013 to test whether some patients may be able to stop treatment
after achieving a sustained response to therapy.