ZURICH Novartis psoriasis drug secukinumab was
superior to Amgen's Enbrel in a late-stage study, the Swiss
company said on Monday, putting it in line to become the first
of a clutch of new treatments to gain market approval.
A phase III trial involving 1,307 patients showed that
secukinumab was more effective than Enbrel in clearing skin in
patients with moderate to severe plaque-type psoriasis, a
painful and unsightly skin condition that causes itching and
Novartis said it expects to present full results of the
study later in the year and that it is on track to file for
regulatory approval by the end of the year.
"These results, showing that secukinumab is superior to
Enbrel, a current standard-of-care therapy, are great news for
people living with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis," said
Tim Wright, global head of development at Novartis.
Plaque psoriasis is thought to be caused by an inflammatory
response initiated by the body's immune system and affects about
125 million people. Those suffering from the disease are also at
a greater risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
Novartis is among a pack of drugmakers developing new
treatments for psoriasis, including Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca,
Celgene and Amgen.
Analysts at Citi expect a flood of new treatments to help to
more than double sales in the psoriasis market to $7.6 billion
by 2022, from $3.6 billion in 2012.
Kepler Chevreux analysts forecast peak sales of $701 million
Shares in Novartis were trading up by almost 1.5 percent at
68.60 Swiss francs ($71.18) by 1240 GMT, against a 1 percent
rise for the European healthcare index.