October 7, 2008 / 11:36 AM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-Novartis lung disease drug promising in trial

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ZURICH, Oct 7 (Reuters) - A Novartis AG NOVN.VX drug, NVA237, had promising results in a mid-stage trial in patients with a progressive lung disease common among smokers, the Swiss drugmaker said on Tuesday. Once-daily treatment NVA237, which was licensed to Novartis in 2005 by Sosei Group Corp (4565.T) and Vectura Group Plc (VEC.L), provided 24-hour bronchodilation in patients with moderate-to-severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.

Novartis shares rose 1.7 percent to 60.60 Swiss francs by 1107 GMT, outperforming the Swiss blue-chip index .SSMI. Vectura shares rose 3.7 percent.

The drug showed similar efficacy and duration of action to tiotropium — the generic name for Spiriva, marketed by Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and Boehringer Ingelheim — in patients with moderate-to-severe COPD, and a potentially more rapid onset of action, Novartis said in a statement.

The data, presented at a European Respiratory Society meeting in Berlin, confirmed earlier findings, Helvea analyst Karl-Heinz Koch said, pencilling in conservative peak sales of $500 million for the drug and saying there was still potential upside to that forecast.

Vontobel analyst Andrew Weiss increased his peak sales estimate to $1 billion, from $700 million, as the data “confirms earlier findings that it is potentially as efficacious as Spiriva with a more rapid onset of action”.

COPD currently affects 210 million people worldwide, Novartis said. While there is no cure, bronchodilators make breathing easier by enlarging the patient’s airways.

For a full statement click on [NOVN.VX-CNR]

Reporting by Sam Cage; editing by Sue Thomas

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